Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore took to social media on Saturday to urge people to stay calm a day after panicked buyers emptied supermarket shelves of rice, noodles, toilet paper and other essential items.
The city-state of 5.7 million raised its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to orange on Friday, the first time this has been done since the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2009.
this is ridiculous. even the booze is gone. are we trying to drink ourselves to death before the Coronavirus gets us? pic.twitter.com/V6Al7a7CxI
— Edward C. Yong ن (@infernoxv) February 8, 2020
The prime minister noted that the new coronavirus appeared to be “more infectious than SARS” but only had a mortality rate of just 0.2% outside of Hubei province, much lower than that of SARS which killed about 10% of those infected.
“So there is no need to panic. We are not locking down the city or confining everybody to stay at home. We have ample supplies, so there is no need to stock up with instant noodles, tinned food, or toilet paper, as some people did yesterday,” he said.
Don't go to Mustafa Centre either because that's where the crazies are too. Again, this is not an apocalypse. You buy so much for what? Will die if you don't have meh?
Note: This is not my video. pic.twitter.com/l30zLxa0Mu
— MissHope (@Hopeily) February 8, 2020
If the number of cases of infection continues to grow, however, Singapore would have to reconsider its strategy, he added, as it would be “futile to try to trace every contact”. If every suspect case were hospitalized and isolated, hospitals would be overwhelmed, he said.
“Fear and anxiety are natural human reactions. We all want to protect ourselves and our families from what is still a new and unknown disease. But fear can do more harm than the virus itself,” he said.
“It can make us panic, or do things which make matters worse, like circulating rumours online, hoarding facemasks or food, or blaming particular groups for the outbreak.”
“We should take courage and see through this stressful time together,” he concluded. “Take sensible precautions, help one another, stay calm, and carry on with our lives.”