It is famous for impeccably clean streets, some of the world’s toughest littering laws and standards of public hygiene most countries could only dream about. Singapore’s reputation for sanitary strictness may have been mocked in the past, but as the world struggles to get to grips with the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus the Lion City’s approach to cleanliness may have finally come into its own. The city state this week issued a raft of guidelines on government websites on how people can minimise the spread of the virus, advocating the adoption of “seven habits” of good public hygiene. These are: avoid contact with live animals and consumption of raw or undercooked meat; avoid crowded places and close contact with people who are unwell; wash hands with soap frequently; wear a mask if you have respiratory symptoms such as a cough or runny nose; cover your mouth with tissue when coughing or sneezing and dispose of the tissue immediately afterwards; seek medical attention promptly if you are feeling unwell; observe good personal hygiene. It also urges people who believe they may have been exposed to the virus to: mop floors at home with disinfectant, twice; avoid touching their face while cleaning; keep windows open for fresh air. “These guidelines are developed and tailored ... such that residents and owners are able to carry out cleaning and disinfection operations on their own,” said the National Environmental Agency, which worked with the health ministry and the National Centre for Infectious Diseases to establish the guidelines. How Wuhan coronavirus spread anti-Chinese racism like a disease through Asia The guidance came as Singapore reported its tenth confirmed infection on Wednesday. There are a further 70 suspected cases in the city state pending laboratory results. The pneumonia-like illness has killed 170 people and sickened more than 7,000 in mainland China so far and cases have been reported as far afield as the United States and Europe. Singapore has introduced temperature checks for all passengers at all entry points and is turning away travellers from Hubei province, the epicentre of the contagion, who do not already hold visas to enter Singapore. FOOD ADVICE In a separate advisory, the Singapore Food Agency called for the maintenance of high standards of sanitation and personal hygiene to minimise the risk of transmission. It listed about 40 practices food vendors should implement, from personal and food hygiene to pest control. These include covering all wounds and cuts with waterproof plasters, covering food properly to prevent contamination, and storing raw and cooked food separately. “Operators of food establishments are advised to maintain high standards of hygiene and cleanliness to safeguard public health and instil confidence in customers,” the advisory adds. IT STARTS WITH YOU Singapore’s leaders have in the past week urged citizens to play their part in the “multilayered” defence the city state is building against the virus. Health minister Gan Kim Yong, who heads a multi-ministry task force to minimise the risk of the virus, said it was important that Singaporeans protect themselves by observing personal hygiene and behaving in a “socially responsible way”. Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the task force, said on Thursday that good personal hygiene was the “best thing that every Singaporean can do to protect himself”. “Wash your hands regularly with soap. Don’t touch your face with your hands, because when your hands are dirty and you touch your face without realising it – the mucous membranes, your eyes, your nose, your mouth, that is how viruses spread,” said Wong. “I think it is important we get the message out to Singaporeans to understand why we are doing this and we hope that Singaporeans will cooperate and be socially responsible.” FREE MASKS Meanwhile authorities announced they would distribute 5.2 million surgical masks to citizens – roughly four masks for each of its 1.37 million households – while reiterating that only people who were unwell needed to wear them. Asok Kurup, an infectious diseases specialist at Mount Elizabeth Medical Centre, said the move would help those unable to buy masks at stores. This came amid reports that a black market in masks was emerging, with some masks marketed as having “anti-coronavirus” properties on sale for S$10,000 (US$7,300) on the e-commerce platform Qoo10. Beyond the China coronavirus: the deadly diseases Asia has beaten before Photos circulating on social media show long lines at pharmacies in Singapore shopping malls as customers wait to buy masks. Singapore officials have stepped in to say that the government is working with retailers to manage pricing, and cautioned them against profiteering. “Even in a situation that we do not have any potential community transmission, if you have people who are feeling unwell and don’t have the mask, then that’s worse,” said Kurup. Kurup added that it was vital for people to wear and dispose of masks correctly. For example, he said masks were not necessary for people in well-ventilated locations. “People are also throwing [masks] everywhere and on the roads, this is going to spread more problems,” said Kurup. He said much came down to basic etiquette. Problem behaviours such as spitting in public were “difficult to change overnight”. Kurup said that while guidelines from authorities such as the World Health Organisation were a help, in the end “the community at large and the individual have to approach this sensibly”. Purchase the China AI Report 2020 brought to you by SCMP Research and enjoy a 20% discount (original price US$400). This 60-page all new intelligence report gives you first-hand insights and analysis into the latest industry developments and intelligence about China AI. Get exclusive access to our webinars for continuous learning, and interact with China AI executives in live Q&A. Offer valid until 31 March 2020.