Singapore raises virus alert level

Source:AFP Published: 2020/2/9 18:38:42

A doctor checks the CT image of a patient's lungs in Zhangzhou Municipal Hospital in Zhangzhou, southeast China's Fujian Province, Feb. 2, 2020. Zhangzhou Municipal Hospital is a designated hospital to treat patients infected with the novel coronavirus in the city. It has started receiving patients with its emergency wards since Jan. 26 in a bid to fight against the virus outbreak. (Photo by Xiao Heyong/Xinhua)

Anxious Singapore shoppers formed long lines at grocery stores Saturday and cleared the shelves of essential items after the city-state raised its alert level over China's coronavirus outbreak.

Singapore, which has reported 33 cases, raised its alert level Friday to "orange."

The announcement triggered panic in the city-state of 5.7 million starting late Friday, with shoppers rushing to stock up on items including rice, noodles and toilet paper.

Pictures circulating on social media showed empty shelves in some stores, carts filled with goods and long lines at counters, which continued into Saturday.

There were, however, ample stocks of other items such as fruit, meat, fish, and alcohol.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged calm, saying Singapore had "ample supplies" and there was no need for people to stock up with items such as instant noodles or toilet paper.

"Fear can do more harm than the virus itself," he said in a statement. 

"It can make us panic, or do things which make matters worse, like circulating rumors online, hoarding facemasks or food, or blaming particular groups for the outbreak."

Singapore raised its alert level amid a growing number of virus cases in citizens with no recent travel history to Chinese mainland and no known links to previous infections.



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