Some S'poreans in China unfazed

Some Singaporeans living in or going to China are unfazed by the 14 deaths caused by the new strain of bird flu.

As the number of confirmed cases for influenza A H7N9 rises, Singaporeans are cautionary, but still pressing ahead with their plans to travel to infected parts of China.

"H7N9 is in the China news daily: newspapers, online, and on the metro tv news. It is the main topic of discussion in office," said Miss Bonnie Mui, 21. "It is unsettling to be at the city where one of the first few cases of H7N9 was discovered, but there isn't any uproar yet," said Miss Bonnie Mui, 21.

Miss Mui is a third-year Ngee Ann Polytechnic student who is interning at Ortus Group, an advertising company based in Shanghai.

Since last Saturday, live poultry markets have been temporarily closed in Shanghai and more than 20,000 birds have been culled.

Yet Singaporeans do not seem rattled by these measures.

"Not a lot of people are wearing masks on the metro. And when someone coughs, the people around do not react in an alarmed manner," said the third year NTU Communications Studies student who is in Shanghai for a work-study programme.

With the shadows of H1N1 and SARS hanging behind our backs, it seems that Singaporeans taking their own precautions about the situation.

"We still have the hand sanitiser we brought here and are also purchasing face masks," said Miss Mui.

Mr Wong Kar Weng, 23, and his group of Singaporean friends are avoiding the consumption of poultry.

"As of now, everything that I eat is based on personal discretion," said the Nanyang Technological University student, who is in Shanghai for a work-study programme from January to June.

Mr Alaric Ng, 22, is still going ahead with his internship in Shanghai.

The first-year business administration student at the National University of Singapore will be interning at a Shanghai marketing company from next month to August.

He has been concerned enough to follow the situation in Shanghai, but will go ahead with his plans.

"I trust that the Chinese government will treat this case with exigency because Shanghai is a major global city," he said.

Better informed

If anything, previous outbreaks have made Singaporeans better informed on how to handle such situations.

Only human-to-human transmission would alter their plans, said some.

Said Mr Ng:

"I will reconsider when it has been established that the H7N9 has mutated to human-to-human transmission status. By then, the WHO would definitely have declared an epidemic."

His mother, Mrs Pearly Ng, 52, agreed: "Once human-to-human transmission is proven, he has to come back."

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