Return of Singaporeans from Wuhan, Hubei Province to Singapore

The Chinese authorities have acceded to the request by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to launch another flight to bring Singaporeans and their family members back from Wuhan, Hubei.

Scoot flight TR5120 departed from Singapore this afternoon. The plane will deliver humanitarian assistance from the Singapore Government, including medical supplies and diagnostic test kits for the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) to help the communities severely affected by the outbreak in China.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan handed over Singapore's humanitarian assistance to Ambassador of the People's Republic of China Hong Xiaoyong earlier today at Changi Airport. The transcript of Minister Balakrishnan's remarks is enclosed.

The returning Singaporeans and their family members are expected to arrive in Singapore tomorrow morning. Appropriate quarantine arrangements have been made for all of them.

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Edited Transcript of Minister for Foreign Affairs Dr Vivian Balakrishnan's Remarks at the Handover of Humanitarian Assistance to Support China's Efforts to Overcome the 2019 Novel Coronavirus, 8 February 2020

Good afternoon. Thank you all for being here. I want to make three points.

First, to thank the Chinese Government. We have been working very closely to facilitate the return of Singaporeans from Wuhan back to Singapore. You know, today is chap goh mei, which is another traditional evening for family reunion. So, for us to be able to launch this flight to bring our Singaporeans back on this day is extra special.

The second point I want to make is to thank the airline crew, the pilots, and the cabin crew for continuing to fly. We are maintaining links between Singapore, Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chongqing and the fact that these links are available for essential services is a very important point, especially in a time of crisis.

My third point is to reflect on scientific collaboration and the medical options available. This coronavirus really started expanding in December. But by mid-January, the genome was already published by the scientists in China and made available worldwide. This, in turn, has allowed, for instance, our own A*STAR research institute to develop a test kit which helps to identify specifically this particular virus. It is worth reflecting that now, today, barely 3 months after this epidemic has occurred, we have test kits available because of this effective scientific collaboration. And I am very glad that on this plane, we are also sending test kits � we will make available about 10,000 tests which will be available to the hospitals in Wuhan to help them identify patients who may have this infection. That will allow them to get the appropriate treatment earlier. So, all in all, this illustrates the importance of having effective scientific, political, and operational collaboration. That is the only way we are going to overcome this. Each country, domestically, has to have an effective programme. But equally important, we need to work effectively across boundaries in order to solve this epidemic situation.

Source: Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of Singapore