The ban on all short-term visitors to Singapore came into effect at 11.59pm last night (23 Mar). The Singapore government said it started imposing the ban in view of the heightened risks of importing COVID-19 into Singapore.
Work pass holders and their dependants, however, will still be allowed to return to Singapore only if they work in sectors that provide essential services such as healthcare and transport.
The measures were announced a day after two patients – a 75-year-old Singaporean woman and a 64-year-old Indonesian man – died from COVID-19. They were the first 2 deaths in Singapore linking to COVID-19.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong told the media on Sunday (22 Mar), “These (measures) are significant moves, especially for a small, open economy like Singapore that has always been connected to the world.”
“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,” he said. “During this time, we need to focus our resources on returning Singaporeans because they are coming back in large numbers.”
Last Sat (21 Mar), there were still 533 short-term visitors arriving in Singapore before the ban.
Indonesian flies to Singapore and infects Singaporean
One of the dead, in fact, was a 64-year-old Indonesian who flew to Singapore for COVID-19 treatment on 13 Mar (‘COVID-19 Fatality: 64-yr-old Indonesian flew to SG for treatment and infected Singaporean during stay‘).
Before flying into Singapore, he was already hospitalised in Jakarta for “pneumonia”. He then proceeded to go to Singapore seeking further treatments. In other words, he was already ill when he arrived in Singapore.
Upon arrival, he checked in at Ibis Hotel Novena first before going to Mount Elizabeth Hospital to get treatments. Mount Elizabeth then immediately referred him to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) on the same day. Subsequent test results confirmed he was infected with COVID-19 the next day (14 Mar).
On Wed (18 Mar), MOH then revealed that a 62-year-old Singaporean was also infected with COVID-19 and was linked to this Indonesian. It’s not known how the Singaporean was infected by the Indonesian within a day of his arrival in Singapore, before his isolation also on the same day (13 Mar). In any case, the Indonesian passed away last Sat (21 Mar).
Netizens condemn government for being “wishy-washy” and indecisive in banning foreign visitors
Many netizens, however, were not impressed with Wong’s announcement. Many felt that the ban on these short-term visitors should have been activated much earlier, and not just when people died. Followings were discussion taken from Yahoo website:
DouGlas: At the onset the government hesitated to ban Chinese visitors, now they are repeating the same mistake by wishy washy on short-terms visitors. Just ban all visitors with the exception of Singaporean and residents.
Francis: I has noticed that the government always adopt the “wait and see” altitude. While many countries closed their border, our authority would only close the border when the situation deteriorated. Buying TIME is not the wise move. In fact…. it a dangerous attempt, because “gambling” with our citizens life is unacceptable. Despite border restrictions, some 533 short-term visitors had arrived on Saturday alone.
Concern: Why wait 2359 Monday ? Waiting for more confirmed cases to come in ??? Should have done long ago ..! Always waiting game ??? A leader need to have good foresight to decide based on Wuhan experience ..!
SG Randy Orton: Should have done this long ago as the first proactive preventive measure. Don’t have to wait until now. If we have done this right from the start, we would already have control over who are infected in this country and no need to keep finding and building the expanding network of infected persons. Is it worth it just for the few percent points in GDP growth from then till now?
Newitt: Why always 1 day advance notice ?… This 1 day gives short term visitors the opportunity to rush in and still create havoc on our fragile medical system.
Pakon: If not because of your procrastination, things would have been better.
Benji: Singapore closes borders to all tourists, short-term visitors. Why must this decision only made after 2 fatalities? It should have acted earlier before more deaths in the country. Cannot understand the way they handle this crisis.
omar_eric: Tats the way with PAP for everything in SG, no deaths, means no correct action. Only wayang sing song with serious face. Look at e-scooter debacle.
Jimmy: Actually the minister shd step down they study so much and yet can’t make a decision which I only poly very will have think of. So who is the idiots????
Indeed, it does appear that the government puts priority on economic growth over citizens’ life, given what Wong told the media that banning foreign visitors and other restrictive measures are “significant moves, especially for a small, open economy like Singapore”.