Temperature screening for passengers from Mers-affected countries from May 18

The Health Ministry will start temperature screening at air checkpoints for all passengers arriving from affected countries in the Middle East from May 18, in order to facilitate early detection of the Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (Mers-CoV).

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Here is the full statement from the Ministry of Health:

The Ministry of Health (MOH) is closely monitoring the latest global developments on Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (Mers-CoV) infections, including the situation in Saudi Arabia which continues to see more confirmed cases in recent weeks.

A statement issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the Fifth Meeting of the International Health Regulations (IHR) Emergency Committee concerning Mers-CoV had also strongly urged Member States to take immediate steps to improve national policies for infection prevention and control.

In line with the Committee's assessment that the seriousness of the situation had increased in terms of public health impact, we intend to commence temperature screening at air checkpoints for passengers arriving from affected countries in the Middle East from May 18. This is an additional measure for the early detection of Mers-CoV.

No cases of Mers-CoV have been detected in Singapore thus far. The risk of an outbreak in our community also remains low as sustained human-to-human transmission of the virus has not been reported.

Nonetheless, the possibility of an imported case here cannot be ruled out given today's globalised travel patterns. As the global Mers-CoV situation is still unfolding, our ongoing surveillance efforts and assessment of the public health impact here will guide the calibration of existing as well as future public health measures.

While it is a pre-emptive measure, temperature screening may not pick up all imported cases due to the long incubation period (up to 14 days) of Mers-CoV and the presence of mild and asymptomatic cases. MOH and healthcare institutions therefore remain vigilant to test for Mers-CoV where clinically indicated, such as in patients with serious respiratory illness and a compatible travel history.

All suspected and confirmed cases will be isolated and managed under strict airborne infection control precautions. If a case is detected, MOH will conduct contact tracing when appropriate, and all close contacts will be placed under quarantine. Guidance to healthcare workers on the management of any suspected cases of Mers-CoV infection has also been provided.

Health Advisories are in place at our border checkpoints for incoming travellers from areas affected by Mers-CoV, as well as for outgoing travellers to these affected areas. MOH's Health Advisory is also distributed to both passengers flying to and from affected areas.

The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (MUIS) will continue to work with the relevant travel agents to ensure that MOH's Health Advisory is provided to Umrah and Haj pilgrims. There is currently no advisory against travel to countries of the Arabian Peninsula, or to countries reporting imported cases of Mers-CoV. Prior to overseas travel, members of the public are also encouraged to refer to the MOH web page on Mers-CoV for the latest Health Advisory.