DOS Update #1

28 January 2020

Dear Students:

In light of the evolving situation on the Wuhan Coronavirus Pneumonia, I will give a daily update on NUS measures and how they will affect students.

The updates will be 7-Eleven – at 7 am/pm or 11 am/pm. In addition, I will reply to three questions sent in by students.

Here’s what we know so far: 

NUS is safe

There are NO students living on campus who have contracted the virus. No one is suspected of being infected.

Government Quarantine Facilities (GQFs) activated

A cluster of four blocks at NUS’ Prince George’s Park Residences (PGPR) has been activated as a Government Quarantine Facility (GQF).

There are similar facilities at the Nanyang Technological University and Singapore Management University. They are part of our Government’s response plan for emergencies. 

The GQF is for housing people issued with quarantine orders by the authorities. International students under quarantine will be transferred by the authorities to the PGPR GQF.

Latest at 7 pm: People returning from Hubei Province will be issued with Quarantine Orders (QO) from the Ministry of Health (MOH). NUS international students  with QO will be quarantined in the GQF.

Persons Under Quarantine (PUQ) at the GQF are healthy people who show NO symptoms and fall under the quarantine criteria established by the authorities (see MOH press release here). Quarantine orders have legal force, with severe penalties for non-compliance. Quarantined individuals are guarded by security staff 24x7 and are not allowed to leave their rooms during the full quarantine period.

The only people who are allowed to enter and leave are trained staff who are looking after the quarantined individuals, such as cleaners, delivery persons for food and essential items. If any quarantined individuals are showing any symptoms, they will be transferred immediately by special ambulance to designated hospitals for further evaluation.

We fight the virus, we live life to the full

Most events will go on as usual. A few may be cancelled, not because of public health concerns, but because staff have been re-deployed to other duties, or if response is poor. As usual, please stay away from events if you are unwell. As the risk level changes, more measures – including temperature checks and screenings – may be instituted.

This will be a long haul.

In the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, it took two-month for World Health Organization (WHO) to declare Singapore SARS-free after the first patient was reported. It took five and a half months for SARS to be completely eradicated in Singapore.

This coronavirus is a new virus but the fight is an old one.

Constant vigilance, looking out for each other, being civic-minded. If you are sick, we will take care of you. If you are well, please help your friends along.

In the meantime, you have to attend online or off, classes to help you understand the mysteries of computational fluid dynamics, the determinants of global inequality and discover the joys of solving Fermat’s last theorem.

Behind Rawl’s veil of ignorance, we don’t know which one of us has to spend two weeks in a room, relying on others to deliver food and essentials, and which one gets to run and swim and play in the sun. We don’t know who has to do a class online, and who gets to enjoy the cut and thrust of live seminars.

We don’t know and so we do the best we can, for each one of us.

This Saturday, I will watch the incredible Eusoff Hall students in their annual dance production. This year’s production is Icarus, named for a man who paid a heavy price for his ambition and daring. It is true that to do great things, to fight a good fight, one must often pay a high price. Except when we do it together.

This fight will be a tough one, but it is one which we can win together.


A/P Leong Ching
NUS Dean of Students


#QOTD (Questions of the Day)

Question: “Tour groups from mainland China frequently visit NUS, in particular, UTown. Will NUS be taking action to prevent the entry of tour groups from mainland China into University compounds?”

Answer: As of Tuesday 28 January 2020, the University has contacted tour agencies to defer such tours to the campus until the crisis is over. Security staff have also been briefed to advise the tour groups to stop conducting such tours if they see them on campus. You can do your part by informing the Office of Campus Security if you see one in campus.

Question: “I am currently residing in Block 26 in PGP and is uncertain as to whether PGP is still safe for me to continue my stay. What are the precautionary measures that the campus will be taking regarding the quarantine blocks so as to prevent any form of contact with these quarantined residents as well as ensuring the safety for the current residents at PGP?

Answer: A multi-department University-level task force has been set up to look into precautionary measures to protect the NUS community from the virus. Security staff are guarding the PGPR GQF so Persons Under Quarantine (PUQs) will not be in contact with anyone except dedicated staff who will look into their essential needs such as food. These trained and rostered staff will observe a high level of personal hygiene protocols when in contact with the PUQs.

Question: “Does the Leave of Absence (LOA) apply to students who are returning from Hong Kong?”

Answer: No, LOA only applies to mainland China in line with the guidance from the MOH and guidelines from the Ministry of Education. Travellers who transit in an airport in mainland China are not considered as having travelled to mainland China. Students transiting in airports in China are exempt.


Read More: 

DOS Update #2 -- The Proximity of Noses (29 January 2020)
DOS Update #3 -- Black cats, white cats and the placebo effect (30 January 2020)
DOS Update #4 -- A Thousands Words (31 January 2020)
DOS Update #5 -- Food, Buses and the Virtual Company of Friends (1 February 2020)
DOS Update #6 -- What's in a name? (2 February 2020)
DOS Update #7 -- "Everyone is scared, but it’s part of our job.” (3 February 2020)
DOS Update #8 -- Noisy Fans and Fishy Water: Life on the Inside (4 February 2020)