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Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Swine flu risk to Singapore recovery: central bank

SINGAPORE (AFP) - - The global swine flu outbreak could set back a recovery for Singapore's recession-hit economy, the central bank said Wednesday.

"Depending on how the global outbreak of the swine influenza develops, there could be repercussions for the domestic economy," the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) said.

"Nonetheless, the domestic economy is not expected to stage a decisive rebound this year," the MAS said in its twice-yearly report.

"Indeed, the path to recovery is uncertain and hinges on external developments including the recent outbreak of swine influenza in Mexico, which has added a new dimension to the risk outlook."

Singapore, an open economy largely dependent on external trade and tourism, has stepped up measures against swine flu, drawing lessons from its fight against the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003.

SARS killed 33 people in Singapore that year.

Authorities have deployed thermal scanners at the airport and seaports and stepped up infectious disease control measures at hospitals.

Influential former prime minister Lee Kuan Yew also said any residents returning from Mexico, the epicentre of the current swine flu outbreak, will be quarantined.

As of Wednesday, authorities said 17 people had been referred to two hospitals for precautionary medical assessment and four of them had tested negative for influenza A, the virus type associated with swine flu.

Singapore's economy slipped into a recession last year and is tipped to contract as much as 9.0 percent this year as export demand dries up due to the global downturn.

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