From Sunday (2 Feb) onwards, all travellers arriving from mainland China who had been there in the past 14 days, as well as anyone with a China passport, will be barred from entry or transit in Singapore.
This was announced by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong on Friday (31 Jan).
Speaking at the press conference on Friday, Mr Wong said “On top of everything we’ve already introduced, this will enable us to limit the number of new imported cases here and reduce risk of community spread in Singapore,”
“The situation remains fluid, it’s constantly changing, and we do not rule out taking further measures,”
The restriction which will take place after 11:59pm on Saturday (1 Feb) does not apply to Singaporeans, Permanent Residents and Long Term Pass holders who have been to China or using a China passport. But they will be subjected to a leave of absence of 14 days.
Mr Wong in an earlier address on Monday (27 Jan) cautioned against overreaction and xenophobia and said that a complete ban on travellers from China due to the Wuhan coronavirus is not necessary at the moment but did not rule out the option, adding that the Government is doing “everything it can” to protect Singaporeans in the country.
As the situation became clear that it was escalating, the Singapore government then barred entry of Chinese nationals whose passport is registered in Hubei and those who have visited Wuhan on Wednesday (29 Jan).
Earlier this morning, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the deadly Wuhan coronavirus as a public health emergency of international concern.
“Our greatest concern is the potential for the virus to spread to countries with weaker health systems…. This is not a vote of no confidence in China,” World Health Organization (WHO) Director General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told a briefing in Geneva.
The UN health agency, however, does not recommend and opposes travel or trade restrictions with China, saying that there is no science behind such measures.
So far, there have been 9,692 confirmed cases of infection in China with 170 deaths. There have been 13 cases of confirmed infected individuals in Singapore, or 17 cases if you consider the four who travelled to Malaysia via Singapore.
At the same time, a petition, “Stop the Wuhan virus from entering Singapore” which was started about five days ago by Anatasha Abdullah to call for the ban of travellers from China from entering Singapore has reached 126,000 signatories.
When earlier contacted by TOC about the Singapore ban on visitors from Hubei, Ms Anatasha said:
“I think for now, where all the cases in Singapore are brought in by Wuhan residents, the bar from allowing Hubei residents where the epicentre of the virus is, should be sufficient in ensuring that no more of the virus enters Singapore. As for the health screenings, I think it is a really good effort on their part to be more stringent and I salute those working at the borders of Singapore to keep this up, but my only concern is that although the incubation period of the novel virus is 2-14 days, it sometimes does not even show any symptoms. However, I believe that with Singapore’s healthcare facilities, the healthcare professionals will be able to handle and quarantine the suspected or confirmed cases well enough.”
Edited: Timing of the restriction amended to reflect the actual date of the restriction on Sunday morning.