SINGAPORE, February 9, 2020 (Straits Times): Stepped-up precautionary measures in the light of the coronavirus outbreak did little to dampen the fervor of thousands of Hindu devotees, who turned out to seek blessings and fulfil their vows at this year’s Thaipusam festival. The religious procession went on as usual, drawing some 11,500 devotees — the highest participation rate since 2013, in part helped by Thaipusam falling on a weekend. It began at 11:30pm on Friday and ended yesterday at 11:30pm. The annual procession was one of the first large-scale events to go ahead after Singapore raised its alert level from code yellow to code orange on Friday in response to the outbreak of the virus which originated in Wuhan, China.
Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing, who was guest of honor at this year’s celebration, joined devotees at Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road in the morning yesterday before proceeding to the end point, the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple in Tank Road. Commenting on whether to continue with large-scale events, he spoke of the need to exercise judgment. “We have to make an assessment for each of the activities, whether it is indoor, whether it is outdoor,” he said. “It is not so much how many people are involved, but how are the people involved in those activities.” Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran told reporters separately that while organizers had to put in place additional measures, devotees took them in their stride.