Asia Minute: World Health Organization Praises Singapore’s Reaction to Coronavirus

Feb 19, 2020

Cities and countries around the Asia Pacific are struggling to deal with the public safety aspects of the coronavirus — as well as its economic impact. While the situation is still developing, some locations are doing better than others.

The World Health Organization calls Singapore an example for other countries when it comes to dealing with the novel coronavirus – or COVID-19.

The head of the WHO has been in close touch with health officials in Singapore – adding that he has been “very impressed with the efforts they are making to find every case, follow up with contacts, and stop transmission.”

The WHO says authorities in Singapore have been testing every case of influenza-like illness and pneumonia. Confirmed cases of the coronavirus have now surpassed 80 in Singapore, and medical workers are focusing on transmission clusters to minimize the further spread of the virus.

The government has also been quicker than some others to put together financial packages to help not only the public health sector, but also companies and individuals hurt by the crisis. On Tuesday, Singapore announced more than 4.5 billion U.S. dollars in aid targeting sectors including tourism, aviation and retail – as well as cash and grocery vouchers for families.

Singapore’s Finance Minister warns the full cost of the virus is still not yet known. China is the country’s largest trade partner, and its biggest source of visitors.

The government has downgraded its outlook for the economy because of the outbreak, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also said fear can be even more harmful than the virus.