Israel has announced an entry ban on all non-Israelis who have visited Singapore in the last 14 days amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.

The country’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said on Monday (17 February) that Israel has also banned those who have travelled to Thailand, Hong Kong and Macau in the previous two weeks, in an attempt to stop the spreading of the deadly coronavirus.

Prior to this, travellers from these four East Asian countries and territories had to quarantine themselves for 14 days, under the directives issued by the Health Ministry on Sunday (16 February), the Times of Israel reported.

Mr Deri announced this new restriction after being advised by the country’s Health Ministry.

Earlier this month, Kuwait has urged its citizens in Singapore to immediately leave the country, and requested those intending to fly to the Republic to hold their travel plans first, according to media reports.

Kuwait Times stated in its article that the Kuwaiti embassy in Singapore has made this announcement on 7 February after the city-state raised its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level from Yellow to Orange. Kuwait becomes the first country to advise its citizens to not travel to Singapore.

The embassy encouraged Kuwaitis currently in the Republic to “leave rapidly and abstain from staying except for compelling reasons”.

Besides Kuwait, Qatar’s foreign affairs ministry also issued a similar statement on Sunday (9 February) via its embassy in Singapore asking all Qatari nationals planning to travel to Singapore to “wait until the conditions related to the Coronavirus calms, except for the most urgent need”.

As of 18 February, Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) has confirmed and verified four additional cases of the COVID-19 in the country, bringing the total number of infected cases to 81.

In fact, Singapore has now become the country with the most infected cases of the deadly coronavirus outside of China.

Countries should not make “knee-jerk” decisions to ban Singapore

Earlier on 14 February (Friday), Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong asserted that the higher number of confirmed cases in Singapore is due to the country’s size and thorough checks by the health authorities.

Although it is understandable for certain countries to issue travel advisories against Singapore, but PM Lee said that they should not make “knee-jerk” decisions to escalate their warning to a complete ban solely due to the numbers.

But he noted that the situation is very different for countries with bigger land space or larger amount of rural areas.

“It is not so easy to track what’s happening in that country so the reported cases and the developments, there may be some lag before things become known,” he pointed out.

As such, PM Lee said that this possibility should be highlighted to other countries so they will be able to make well-informed decision based on facts before issuing a travel advisory or even a ban on Singapore.

“To go beyond (a travel advisory), while we will make our case very clearly to the other countries that ‘This is a real situation, please make a sound scientific and medical judgment. Don’t just act on a knee jerk, based on somebody’s headline,’” expressed PM Lee.

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