The Singapore government has announced that it will bar all short-term visitors from entering or transiting through Singapore, in view of the heightened risk of importation of COVID-19 cases into Singapore.

This will take effect from Monday (23 March 2020), 2359 hours.

Minister of National Development and coronavirus multi-ministry taskforce co-chair Lawrence Wong at a media doorstop on Sunday (22 March) said, “These are significant moves, especially for a small, open economy like Singapore that has always been connected to the world”.

He added, “I can understand, Singapore is attractive and people want to be here… but for every visitor that comes through, for every work pass holder that comes through, they take up resources,”

“During this time, we need to focus our resources on returning Singaporeans because they are coming back in large numbers,”

Previously, except for a handful of countries, short-term visitors from elsewhere were allowed to come into Singapore, save they were issued a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) upon arrival. This meant, however, that resources were being expended to serve and enforce SHNs on them, and if they fell ill, to provide them with medical treatment.

According to Ministry of Health, there were still 533 short-term visitors arriving in Singapore on Saturday.

The Ministry of Manpower will only allow the entry/ return of work pass holders, including their dependents, for those providing essential services, such as in healthcare and transport.

It has been earlier announced that all Singapore Citizens, Permanent Residents and Long Term Pass holders returning to Singapore will be issued a 14-day SHN. Persons under SHN must remain in their place of residence at all times.

The Singapore-Malaysia Special Working Committee has agreed that Malaysians with Singapore work permits will continue to be able to work in Singapore during this period, with appropriate accommodation arrangements. The transport of all types of goods between Malaysia and Singapore will also be facilitated. Discussions in the Committee are ongoing.

In Singapore, almost 80 percent of new COVID-19 cases over the past three days were imported, most of them Singapore residents and Long Term Pass holders returning home from abroad. These imported cases had travel histories to 22 different countries.

There has been a further sharp increase in cases globally and widening spread. To date, there are more than 260,000 COVID-19 cases across 185 countries, and around 11,200 deaths.

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