(Adds travel advisory, health minister comments)
SINGAPORE, Jan 22 (Reuters) – Singapore on Wednesday started screening all passengers arriving on flights from China to avoid transmission of the flu-like coronavirus, and advised travellers against non-essential travel to Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of the outbreak.
There have been no confirmed cases of the virus to date in Singapore, a global travel hub, but the city-state’s health minister said it was “inevitable” with cases arising in other parts of China as well as the United States, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan.
“It is inevitable that we will see an imported case sooner or later,” health minister Gan Kim Yong said in comments reported by local broadcaster ChannelNewsAsia.
Singapore earlier this month started temperature screening passengers arriving from Wuhan. On Wednesday it stepped up measures to combat the virus after China confirmed it can pass between humans and cases and fatalities started to mount.
As part of those new measures, Singapore’s health ministry said it would treat anyone with pneumonia and a recent travel history to China, or those with acute respiratory infections that had recently sought treatment in China, as suspect cases and isolate them in hospital.
The new measures come as throngs of people around the region prepare to travel for the Lunar New Year holidays starting this week.
The outbreak has stoked fears of a pandemic similar to the 2003 outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) that started in China and killed nearly 800 people. (Reporting by John Geddie Editing by Robert Birsel and Peter Graff)