The Ministry of Health (MOH) has been closely monitoring the Ebola situation in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria in West Africa, and notes the recent developments and escalation of cases. While the situation remains fluid, the Ministry’s assessment continues to be that the Ebola outbreak in West Africa poses a low public health risk to Singapore. This is because person-to-person transmission results from direct contact with bodily fluids of those infected, and the current outbreak is limited to West Africa, and travel connectivity between Singapore and West Africa is low. However, as the number of reported cases there continues to increase, we are putting in place additional precautionary measures.
2. To further enhance public awareness and encourage travellers to seek timely treatment if ill, MOH is working with the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS), the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority (ICA) and the Changi Airport Group (CAG) to distribute individual Health Advisory Notices (HANs) to nationals from the affected areas at air and land checkpoints, starting from 2pm on 7 August 2014.
3. The HAN advises travellers that, if they become unwell with sudden onset of high fever, stomach pains, diarrhoea, vomiting, rash or bleeding within 3 weeks of being in any of these areas in West Africa (Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria), they should see a doctor early at any medical clinic in Singapore. They are also reminded to inform the doctor of where they had been.
4. MOH will also be putting up health advisory posters at the arrival halls in Changi Airport to advise inbound travellers to seek medical treatment if they become unwell with sudden onset of high fever, stomach pains, diarrhoea, vomiting, rash or bleeding within 3 weeks of being in any of these areas.
5. Prior to overseas travel, MOH encourages members of the public to refer to the MOH web page on Ebola for the latest Health Advisory. They should consider postponing travel to affected areas if it is non-essential. Persons who need to travel are advised to adopt the necessary precautions, which includes the following:
· Practice frequent hand washing (e.g. after going to toilet, or when hands are soiled);
· Avoid direct contact with blood, secretions or other body fluids of infected living or dead persons or animals, as well as environments that have become contaminated with these infectious fluids such as soiled clothing, bed linen, or used needles;
· Avoid participating in burial ceremonies which require direct contact with the body of a deceased infected person.
· Avoid contact with wild animals, including bats, monkeys, apes, chimpanzee and gorillas, whether alive or dead, including their raw or undercooked meat;
· Returning travellers from affected areas or travellers who suspect that they have been exposed to Ebola virus should seek immediate medical attention and mention their recent travel to the attending physician if they develop any disease symptoms while travelling in or within 3 weeks of being in any of the areas.
6. MOH continues to maintain close contact with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and our overseas counterparts to monitor the situation closely and ensure that public health is safeguarded. In our globalised world, we can never completely rule out the possibility of an imported case, despite the low risk of spread to Singapore. Hence, all hospitals, clinics and doctors have been alerted to stay vigilant against possible suspect cases. Our public hospitals also have in place appropriate infection control measures. Suspect cases are triaged at emergency departments, and as a precaution, isolated from other patients to minimise any risk of transmission. Measures are already in place to carry out contact tracing and quarantine all close contacts, if there is a case in Singapore.
7. More information on Ebola is available at http://www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home/pressRoom/Current_Issues/2014/ebola-virus-disease-.html, or members of the public may call MOH’s hotline at 1800-2254122.
MINISTRY OF HEALTH
7 AUGUST 2014