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SBF calls on Singaporeans to stay vigilant and remain calm in the face of the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak

Monday, 10 February 2020 [Singapore] The Singapore Business Federation (SBF) calls on Singaporeans to stay vigilant and remain calm in the face of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak.

As the apex business chamber, SBF will work closely with its members, particularly supermarket retailers and stores, to ensure stocks of essentials are replenished. The SBF, together with its members, would like to assure the public that stocks are available in the warehouse and that there is no need to rush to stock up on essential supplies.

Mr S.S. Teo, SBF Chairman said, “We are monitoring the situation closely and retailers such as NTUC, Cold Storage and Sheng Siong have assured the public that there are sufficient stocks. They are working swiftly to restock their stores while working with partners to ensure continued supply.

But consumers need to play their part too. A sudden surge in demand increases pressure on supply chains and may add to distribution costs. We urge Singaporeans to remain vigilant but calm, and only buy what they need.

We also call on merchants and retailers not to take advantage of the increased demand to raise prices. In a time like this, we should look out for and help one another. Together, we can overcome this obstacle.”

The raising of the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) alert level to Orange on Friday (Feb 7) by the Ministry of Health (MOH) saw widespread stocking up of essentials such as toilet rolls and instant noodles.
Both Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong as well as Minister for Trade and Industry Mr Chan Chun Sing has also assured all Singaporeans that there is no risk of Singapore running a shortage of essential household items. The Government has a national stockpile for essential items.

The move to DORSCON Orange simply means that additional precautionary measures to minimise the risk of further transmission of the virus are introduced. The advice to the public at this level is to:
  • Be socially responsible. Stay at home if you are sick.
  • Maintain good personal hygiene
  • Look out for health advisories
  • Comply with control measures
Mr David Tan, President of the Singapore Food Manufacturers’ Association, stressed, “In view of the panic-buying at the supermarkets we witnessed recently, our local food manufacturers have already banded together to help boost our local food supply source. In the bigger picture, Singapore’s total food manufacturing output in the region is about SGD10 billion per year, of which 60% is exported. Many of our manufacturers have also embraced automation and productivity solutions to ramp up output. Manufacturers are capable to run additional shifts to boost food production to meet increases in demand. Therefore, I would like to reiterate that food supplies will be sufficient to meet local consumers' needs.”

Calling on Singaporeans to remain calm and patient as stocks are replenished, NTUC FairPrice Group Chief Executive Mr Seah Kian Peng said, “Supply of daily essentials remain available and shoppers are encouraged to buy only what they need and not to stockpile products. FairPrice has increased the volume of daily essentials being sent to our stores by three times and delivery trips have also doubled.

“We adopt an ongoing strategy of source diversification, working with suppliers from multiple countries, to ensure the community has a stable supply of daily essentials at affordable prices. In fulfilling our commitment to moderate costs, prices of daily essentials will also be kept stable in an effort to deter profiteering during this period.”

Mr Chris Bush, CEO of Southeast Asia Food, Dairy Farm Group, who owns Giant, Cold Storage, Jasons Deli and Marketplace supermarkets said, “We would like to assure our customers that we have available supplies in our warehouses and are working very hard to swiftly restock our stores. In addition, we are working closely with our partners for continued supply so there is no need to purchase in bulk. We ask for calm during this challenging time as we continue to do our best to serve the people of Singapore through our stores and online”.

Mr Lim Hock Chee, founder and CEO of Sheng Siong Group called for Singaporeans to remain calm. He said, “There is no need to create a stockpile. We would like to assure the public that Sheng Siong has sufficient inventory in Singapore to provide for customers' daily needs. Our staff will try our best to ensure supplies are replenished in time. Let us stay calm and rational, do not stockpile as food items will expire.”

E-Commerce platform Lazada is also working on increasing their delivery capacity to ensure everyone gets their delivery essentials on time.

Mr James Chang, CEO, Lazada Singapore said, “Do not panic buy. We have sufficient stock if everyone just buys what they need. We are increasing our delivery capacity and ensuring a strong supply of necessary goods during this extraordinary situation. Let’s do our part to take care of one another, as we fight this as a united Singapore.”

A spokesperson from Kimberly-Clark said, “Kimberly-Clark is working with all retailers in Singapore to ensure that there is adequate stock of essentials such as Kleenex toilet paper and Scott kitchen towels for all households. At this time, we do not foresee any shortage of these items.”

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