Wuhan Pneumonia Scare: Why It Will Take the Entire Community to Prevent an Outbreak in Singapore
We’re only in the first month of the new decade and already, the region is grappling with a health scare – the Wuhan pneumonia outbreak. Because of China’s proximity to Singapore and the high number of travellers between the two countries, people are understandably concerned that the Wuhan virus might eventually make its way here.
Thankfully, there are currently no identified cases in Singapore (both suspected patients turned out to be false alarms). Nevertheless, our health authorities are staying vigilant. At the same time, every individual counts in keeping our borders safe from a potential outbreak by staying informed and alert. This includes private doctors such as general practitioners as well as the general public. In fact, the World Health Organisation identifies community engagement as a key factor in managing an epidemic.
Case in point: In 2016, three doctors in a private clinic were instrumental in the discovery of the Zika virus in Singapore. They noticed a pattern of patients consulting them with similar symptoms but could not identify the virus. Feeling uneasy, they contacted MOH to get help in identifying this mystery virus. Soon after, Zika was confirmed and immediate steps were taken to contain the spread of the virus, which is transmitted via the Aedes aegypti mosquito. Besides alerting the local community and urging those with symptoms to get themselves tested, residents were given guidelines on how to protect themselves against mosquito bites. Fogging was also done to contain the spread of the disease.
Thanks to this collaborative effort by the authorities and community, a potentially serious epidemic was contained, said Professor Duane Gubler, founding director of the emerging infectious diseases programme at Duke- NUS Medical School.
Knowledge sharing through technology
Similarly, as the mysteries surrounding the Wuhan pneumonia continue to be unravelled in the coming days and months, it is necessary for the community to band together to keep this virus – and any others that may arise in the future – out of our borders.
At a macro level, we now have the capability to harness digital health technology to help manage or even stop the next epidemic. For instance, collecting data on potential outbreak hotspots could assist with identifying how the epidemic would spread. Medical technology can also go a long way in facilitating information sharing so that healthcare workers and frontline responders can coordinate their efforts.
Currently, Speedoc is taking the first steps towards knowledge sharing through our Speedoc Dr app for doctors. There is an in-app chat function that allows for group communication between our Speedoctors. This allows information to be passed along rapidly so that our healthcare professionals can react quickly and appropriately to potential health scares.
Be personally vigilant
At the same time, since the Wuhan pneumonia is a respiratory illness, the general public can take precautions by following some health guidelines. While there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission yet, it is best to assume that this virus is contagious. So practice good personal hygiene such as wearing masks in public and keeping your hands clean and sanitised at all times.
If you have travelled overseas recently, particularly to Wuhan or other affected regions, be alert for respiratory symptoms, particularly fever with difficulty breathing. In such situations, you should seek medical attention immediately and let your doctor know where you have been. Consider scheduling a Speedoc housecall so a doctor can attend to you in the comfort of your own home. You can do so by calling 8180 8948 or using the Speedoc app that can be downloaded on the App Store or Google Play Store.
This way, you will not have to spend time in a clinic’s waiting room for your turn for a consultation while you are feeling unwell. Plus, with the uncertainty surrounding the Wuhan virus, you will feel more at ease at home where you won’t expose others to your virus or be potentially exposed to other germs with a weakened immune system.
Rest assured, our Speedoctors are extremely experienced with treating pneumonia and will be able to advise if you need to take further steps such as hospitalisation or continue recuperating at home. Together, we can beat the virus and stay safe!