There was a mild scare yesterday when a Nigerian woman in her 50s was identified as a possible Ebola case by doctors at Gleneagles Hospital and transferred to Tan Tock Seng Hospital (TTSH)'s Communicable Diseases Centre. She had flown into Singapore recently and arrived at Gleneagles's emergency department with a fever. What we do not know is whether she is one of many African foreign talents welcomed into the country by the liberal immigration policies or just another high valued individual landing here with lots of cash to park at our banks.
According to latest update (14 August) issued by the World Health Organisation (WHO), 128 new cases of Ebola virus disease, as well as 56 deaths, were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, bringing the total number of cases to 1,975 and deaths to 1,069.
Ebola is a scary viral illness with initial symptoms of a sudden fever, intense weakness, muscle pain and sore throat. Then it gets worse - vomiting, diarrhoea and - in some cases - both internal and external bleeding. The incurable disease infects humans through close contact with infected animals, and then spreads between humans via direct contact with infected blood, bodily fluids or organs, or indirectly through contact with contaminated environments.
It's so scary that WHO has warned that there is "no early end in sight" to the severe health crisis and called for "extraordinary measures". Measures such as the Korean Air decision to suspend its return flights from Incheon, South Korea, to Nairobi, with effect from August 20.
India's health minister Harsh Vardhan said 500 Indians are in the Republic of Guinea, 3,000 in Liberia and 1,200 in Sierra Leone, from where the maximum cases have been reported. Nigeria has a much larger presence of nearly 40,000 Indian citizens. "If the situation worsens, there is a possibility of these people returning home," Vardhan said. Hopefully not with the disease.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) claims that the risk of Ebola in Singapore remains low as there is limited traffic between West Africa and Singapore. Just in case, they carried out a mock "preparedness" exercise at Changi Airport, coincidentally, yesterday. All we need now is a tweet from Singapore Airlines declaring that they do not have connecting flights from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.