by Maurice Tay
I watched the news on Channel 5 last evening with great concern when Minister Lawrence Wong hinted at the impossibility of banning more nationalities from Singapore. The rapid spread of Covid-19 in South Korea, Italy and Japan reinforces concerns that this deadly outbreak has taken a more global scale.
The Singapore government, after much delay, barred entry to Chinese tourists in late January, by which time, a couple from Wuhan had already entered Singapore and would be the catalyst to infect two of the largest clusters in Singapore.
Our limited medical resources cannot afford a huge outbreak like the one we see unfolding in China and Korea. Please do not delay making an incisive decision to ban entry to citizens from countries with widespread infection. The government gave Singaporeans, in general, the impression that the decision to ban Chinese visitors came about ONLY after a groundswell of complaints, petitions and online vitriolic against its seeming unwillingness to bite the bullet.
While the government’s decision to bar Chinese nationals came a tad late, the ban has been proven effective in contact tracing and control as compared to having a large influx of people and spread which would have been near impossible to manage. A ban, enforced swiftly, would stem the import of the virus so that we can focus on cluster spread and contact tracing without having to handle additional import cases which would be a huge strain on our limited resources.
While we are very concerned about the economic ramifications of barring more visitors to Singapore, the lives of our loved ones and the risks that our medical personnel go through every single day treating the infected, far outweigh any temporary economic decline. Please do not wait until the situation is extremely dire before our government makes the decision to ban visitors from South Korea, Japan, Italy or any country with widespread infection. I, therefore, appeal to the government to enforce a ban without delay citizens from countries with widespread infection.
Letter was sent to Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister of National Development. It was also copied to Mr Gan Kim Yong, Minister of Health and Mr K Shanmugam, Minister of Home Affairs and Law. Mr Wong heads the multi-ministry task force which Mr Gan and Mr Shanmugam is part of.