All travellers entering Singapore who have visited other ASEAN countries, Japan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom in the past two weeks will be issued a 14-day stay-home notice, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Sun (15 Mar).
The stay-home notice — which will include Singapore residents, long-term pass holders and short-term visitors — will take effect starting 11.59 pm on Mon (16 Mar), according to MOH.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong told a press briefing that the stay-home notice will not, however, apply to Singaporeans and Malaysians entering the Republic by sea and land crossings with the neighbouring country.
Those subject to the notice will be required to give proof of the location where they will carry out the notice, such as a hotel or a place of residence belonging to them or their family members to cover the entire stipulated 14-day period.
Samples via swabbing may be obtained from those serving the stay-home notice for the purpose of testing for COVID-19, even if they do not show any symptoms, as there is “a risk of community transmission in these countries evidence of cases that have been imported from these countries into Singapore”, said MOH.
The swab test will also be given to all travellers entering Singapore who exhibit symptoms of fever and/or respiratory illness at the checkpoints regardless of their travel history. They will similarly be given a stay-home notice that they must serve in full regardless of the outcome of the swab test.
Travellers who meet the clinical suspect case definition will be sent to the hospital for follow-up.
All short-term visitors who are nationals of any ASEAN country will be required to submit requisite information on their health to the Singapore Overseas Mission in their resident country prior to their intended date of travel to Singapore, the approval of which will be subject to Singapore’s MOH.
Verification of the approval will be conducted by Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers at the Singapore checkpoints.
MOH warned that short-term visitors arriving “without the necessary approval will be denied entry into Singapore”.
“They are therefore advised to secure the approval before making definitive travel bookings,” the Ministry added.
Outlining the reasons behind issuing stay-home notices to recent travellers from the aforementioned countries, MOH said that in the past three days, over “one-quarter of imported cases were from ASEAN countries”.
“We have seen a number of these cases entering Singapore for the purpose of seeking medical care, which imposes a significant burden on Singapore’s healthcare resources during this critical period when we are focused on containing the situation within Singapore,” the Ministry added.
MOH also noted that in the same period, more than three-quarters of the 25 new cases reported were imported cases, “of which close to 90 per cent were Singapore Residents (Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) and Singapore Long Term Pass holders who had returned to Singapore from overseas”.
Mr Wong in the briefing similarly reiterated that the Government is currently focusing on prioritising Singaporeans who are infected with the virus and ensuring that the country has “adequate ICU and healthcare capacity to take care of them”.
“We understand why they would like to do so and we would certainly like to help them, but if there is a sudden surge, we don’t have the capacity to do so and the capacity of our healthcare system must be prioritised for Singaporeans,” he said.
Responding to a query on why the Government did not include recent travellers to the United States in the category of those who are required to serve the stay-home notice, Mr Wong said that border control measures go beyond “the numbers”.
He said that some of the countries listed under the Government’s travel restrictions have “abandoned any attempt” at containing the spread of COVID-19. The US, however, has “put in place quite stringent border control measures” for travellers who had recently been in Europe, he added.
“If there is no deliberate effort to contain, then we anticipate that the numbers of infected cases in these countries will rise even more sharply in the coming days or weeks,” he stressed.
Consequently, Singapore may revise border control measures for countries already on the list of travel restrictions or even add new countries to the said list.
The Government will continue issuing 14-day stay-home notices to residents and long-term pass holders returning to Singapore from areas in mainland China outside Hubei province, as well as countries such as Iran, Italy, France, Germany, South Korea and Spain.
Short-term visitors from the above locations will not be permitted to enter or transit through Singapore.
MOH also advised Singaporeans to defer all non-essential travel abroad with immediate effect.
“Singaporeans who have made plans to travel abroad during the March school holidays are advised to review their plans. All travellers will be subject to the prevailing travel measures imposed by their destination countries, and those imposed by Singapore upon their return home.
“As the situation remains uncertain and will continue to evolve, Singaporeans are advised to review their travel plans for the coming months after the March school holidays as well.
“This advisory will apply for 30 days and will be reviewed thereafter. This is to reduce the risk of Singaporeans contracting COVID-19 infection while overseas during this global pandemic,” said the Ministry.