Health Minister Gan Kim Yong outlined everything Singapore currently knows about the Wuhan novel coronavirus in a Ministerial Statement.

Speaking in Parliament on Feb. 3, Gan said that he understood Singaporeans’ concerns, and sought to provide some background knowledge on the virus for the public’s information.

What to know about the Wuhan virus

Transmission

The Wuhan novel coronavirus comes from a family with includes other viruses like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), and the common cold.

The Wuhan virus, according to current medical consensus, appears to be more transmissible but less deadly than SARS.

According to Gan, evidence suggests that transmission is done mostly via droplets emitted from an infected person over a short distance, such as coughing or sneezing.

Gan states that infection can happen if the droplets come into contact with your eyes, nose or mouth, directly or indirectly, from hands that have touched the droplets.

This does not mean that the virus is airborne, as there is no evidence that it can be transported via air currents or transmit to an individual without droplets.

The virus can also spread through surface contact.

When an infected person sneezes or coughs, the droplets fall onto surfaces like tables, chairs, and handles. If another person comes along, touches that surface and then rubs their face, infection may occur.

While Gan stated that they still hadn’t ascertained how long the virus remains active on these surfaces, he gave a rough estimate of two to three days.