Singapore’s Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) is a four-point alert scale which describes the current disease outbreak situation and what needs to be done. The outbreak of the coronavirus, now named Covid-19, has spread from China to many other countries, Singapore included.
Following a number of locally transmitted cases of Covid-19 which are not linked to travel history to or from China, the city-state has raised the health alert status on DORSCON to orange, the second highest level.
As of the writing of this article, Singapore has seen 47 cases of Covid-19 infection. Of that number, 9 patients have made a full recovery. Out of the 47 cases 25 were confirmed to have been transmitted locally. Singapore also remains the country with the second-highest number of Covid-19 cases outside of China. Japan technically has more, but the majority of that number is currently being quarantined on a cruise liner, and is not being officially tallied.
Orange alert status in Singapore means a number of things. The first of which is that offices, schools, government service centres, and organisers of large-scale events must screen staff, students, and visitors for fever and respiratory conditions like running nose and cough. Additionally, details of all visitors to the city-state must be noted and businesses have been asked to review and ready their business continuity plans.
One particular sector that is expected to take a major hit is Singapore’s MICE (Meetings, Incentive, Conferences, and Exhibitions) industry. Singapore has proven itself to be one of the foremost locations for MICE events. According to Colliers International, the industry brings in about US$ 1.58 billion in tourism revenue.
In January, a meeting organised by British gas analysis firmed Servomax at the Grand Hyatt hotel caused a great scare when three foreign nationals were infected by the coronavirus. This prompted the World Health Organisation (WHO) to launch an investigation.
Major events such as the upcoming bi-annual Singapore Airshow, the largest aerospace exhibition in Asia, is expecting a dramatic plunge in attendance. In the 2018 edition, it attracted 54,000 trade visitors from 147 countries with participation of 1,016 companies from 50 countries, generating about US$ 250 million of tourist receipts.
This year’s event has been hit by a range of cancellations from prominent exhibitors and visitors. Reuters reported that a total of 70 exhibitors have already pulled out. Besides the cancellation from major aerospace firms like Lockheed Martin, Bombardier, Textron (makers of Bell helicopters and Cessna airplanes) and General Dynamics’s Gulfstream and DeHavilland Canada, important decision-makers from the US Defence Department have decided not to attend out of safety concerns.
A travel ban that has been imposed on travelers from China has caused concerns stemming from the travel and hospitality industry. China represents the largest tourist market for the city-state, totaling around 19.5 percent of all international tourist arrivals to the country in 2019. Visitors from other countries are also giving the island republic a pass due to concerns about the number of cases of the virus here. With approximately 30 percent of Singapore’s gaming revenue contributed by the Chinese, integrated resort casinos are expected to report lower revenues.
As global manufacturing is heavily concentrated in China, supply chains are likely to be disrupted. Many Singaporean businesses work closely with their Chinese counterparts and it will come as no surprise if Singapore’s manufacturing output declines.
The Singapore government has introduced various measures to alleviate the business impact of affected industries. This includes waiving license fees for hotels, travel agents and tour guides. It will also defray the cleaning costs of hotels that provided accommodation to those guests confirmed and suspected to have the virus.
Companies and the self-employed will be reimbursed around SG$ 100 (US$ 72) per day for each worker who has to be quarantined due to the virus. More relief measures are expected to be revealed soon at Singapore’s Budget 2020 announcement later in February.