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Gan, Wong to deliver ministerial statement on whole-of-Govt response to Wuhan coronavirus in Parliament on Feb 3

SINGAPORE — Amid the rising number of people testing positive for the Wuhan coronavirus in Singapore, including the first Singaporean, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong will deliver a ministerial statement on the whole-of-Government response to the outbreak when Parliament sits on Monday (Feb 3).

Tourists on Sentosa wearing masks on Wednesday (Jan 29) as the number of Wuhan coronavirus cases grew.

Tourists on Sentosa wearing masks on Wednesday (Jan 29) as the number of Wuhan coronavirus cases grew.

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SINGAPORE — Amid the rising number of people testing positive for the Wuhan coronavirus in Singapore, including the first Singaporean, Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong will deliver a ministerial statement on the whole-of-Government response to the outbreak when Parliament sits on Monday (Feb 3).

The two ministers are co-chairs of an inter-ministry taskforce that is making sure all Government agencies mount a coordinated response to the coronavirus situation in Singapore.

Questions on the outbreak are set to dominate next week's Parliament sitting as the total number of imported cases of the virus here rose to 16 on Friday (Jan 31), a day after the World Health Organization declared the Wuhan coronavirus a global health emergency.

Three patients tested positive for the virus here on Friday, including a 47-year-old Singaporean woman who had recently returned from Wuhan in China, the epicentre of the outbreak. The other two latest confirmed cases are Chinese nationals.

Several Members of Parliament (MPs), including Tampines Group Representation Constituency (GRC) MP Desmond Choo, Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Melvin Yong and Aljunied GRC MP Pritam Singh, have asked Mr Gan for an update on the situation in Singapore and how the authorities plan to respond to the outbreak.

Others, such as Jurong GRC MP Rahayu Mahzam, want to know if there are measures in place to prevent the entry and spread of the virus in Singapore, aside from temperature screening at the airport.

In light of the growing number of cases here, the Government announced on Thursday that it will distribute surgical masks to all households here. Several agencies have also taken precautionary measures to contain the spread of the virus, such as imposing a mandatory leave-of-absence for employees returning from China.

On Friday, the Government also announced tough new entry restrictions applying to people who have travelled to China recently, and those with passports from the People’s Republic of China.

On another topic, Non-Constituency MP Associate Professor Daniel Goh from the Workers’ Party also plans to ask Mr Gan if private hospitals’ emergency departments should be upgraded for a tiered national accident and emergency system involving both public and private hospitals.

His question comes after a car crashed into six Filipino domestic helpers gathered at the pavement behind Lucky Plaza. Two of the women were killed in the crash.

At that time, many had questioned why the victims had been ferried to Tan Tock Seng Hospital in Novena instead of Mount Elizabeth Hospital which is 200m from Lucky Plaza.

The Ministry of Health had then said that Tan Tock Seng Hospital, a public hospital, was the nearest hospital with an emergency department available that could provide treatment for acute emergencies.

However, most private hospitals, including Mount Elizabeth Hospital, are unable to meet the ministry’s standards for trauma care.

Separately, Tanjong Pagar GRC MP Joan Pereira wants to know the take-up rates of adult vaccinations recommended by the Health Ministry over the last three years, and how the ministry plans to raise awareness among high-risk groups such as the elderly.

Amendments to the Active Mobility Act will also be read for the second time in Parliament on Monday after its first reading on Jan 6.

The Act, which came into force in May 2018, lays out rules governing the safe use of public paths.

Proposed changes to the Act include a ban on electric scooters on footpaths and a minimum riding age for users of electric scooters.

The authorities barred electric scooters from footpaths from Nov 5 last year, and these vehicles are now allowed only on bicycle paths and park connectors. The move led to an uproar among electric scooter riders, especially food delivery riders who were reliant on their vehicles to provide their services. This led to a trade-in programme for these vehicles.

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