The Ambassador on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Situation

Ambassadør Anita Nergaard i Singapore

Dear Norwegian Community in Singapore,

 

On 30 January, the World Health Organisation declared the 2019 novel Coronavirus COVID-19 a global health emergency, and in the afternoon of Friday 7 February, Singapore increased the risk assessment of the Coronavirus to DORSCON (Disease Outbreak Response System Condition) Level Orange. At the same time, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said it would introduce additional measures “to minimise the risk of further transmission of the virus in the community”. A number of visible measures are already in place, be it in workplaces, schools or around town.

 

This is a challenging time for our community, for Singapore, and for several other countries near and afar. I know that for many of us, the epidemic dominates most conversations and creates concerns about our own health and the health of our loved ones. Friends and relatives in Norway or elsewhere might worry even more than we do here. If visits are planned, our family and friends might wonder whether it is safe to travel to Singapore now. We who live here might have to look again at our own travel plans. For many in the commercial world, the epidemic will also have a direct impact on their businesses.

 

The Embassy stays in regular contact with the Singaporean Government on these developments. We have received updates on how Singapore assesses the situation and on the measures being implemented. This information is also largely available online, and I urge you all to stay informed and follow the guidance given by the Ministry of Health. Information on the Coronavirus is also published in Norwegian by Folkehelseinstituttet.

 

I would also like to remind you all to abide by the preventative measures encouraged by the MOH: 1) Personal hygiene – wash your hands often with soap, and avoid touching your eyes or face unnecessarily. 2) Take your temperature twice daily – make this a rule for everyone in your household. 3) If you are not well, please avoid crowded places and see a doctor immediately. These simple steps do not take much effort, but if we all do them, they will go a long way towards containing the spread of the virus.

 

The increased DORSCON status has unfortunately resulted in some instances of hoarding of groceries and other necessities around the island. Let me refer to PM Lee Hsien Loong’s speech on Friday night, where he underlined that Singapore has ample supplies of food and hygiene products. There is therefore no need to stockpile such items. I encourage you to read his full speech.

 

I also encourage you to register your stay in Singapore in the Norwegian Government's Travel Registry.

 

As a result of this unfolding situation and the accompanying recommendations by the authorities, the Embassy and the rest of “Team Norway” will also have to adjust or postpone a number of planned events and activities. In deciding on such measures, we give due consideration to the recommendations given by the Singaporean government. Events planned for this week have already been postponed. You will receive more information on upcoming events in the near future.

 

Let me end by echoing PM Lee Hsien Loong’s message before the weekend: “Let us stay united and resolute in this new coronavirus outbreak. Take sensible precautions, help one another, stay calm, and carry on with our lives.”

 

I know that Norwegians are a sensible and resilient people. By continuing to show these qualities, I am confident that the Norwegian community will contribute positively to the Singaporean society in these challenging times!

 

Anita Nergaard

Ambassador