As the number of COVID-19 cases continue to soar in India, the Ministry of Health (MOH) has announced on Tuesday (20 April) that travellers with recent travel history to India will soon have to serve 21-day stay-home notice (SHN) once they arrived in Singapore.
This is an increase from the current 14-day SHN at dedicated facilities. MOH explained in a statement that after completing the 14-day SHN at a dedicated facility, travellers will have to serve an additional seven days at their place of residence in Singapore.
They will also be tested twice for the coronavirus, upon the completion of each isolation period.
The Ministry also stated that this updated requirement will kick in from 11.59pm on Thursday (22 April), including for those who have not completed their first 14-day SHN by that time.
If that’s not all, MOH will also reduce the number of approvals for people entering the city-state if they are not citizens or permanent residents here and have a recent travel history to the South Asian country.
“Migrant workers arriving from India in the construction, marine and process sectors will continue to be subjected to a 21-day stay-home notice. These measures will minimise importation risk and protect public health,” MOH noted.
The stricter restrictions are put in place as daily number of COVID-19 cases in India increased to record highs and there are also news of a “double mutant” variant of the coronavirus that had been detected in India.
On Tuesday, six of the 13 imported COVID-19 cases in Singapore involved those who had arrived from India. The remaining seven cases involved individuals who arrived from countries like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Myanmar, Bangladesh and the Philippines.
In fact, a total of 163 imported cases were recorded in the past week (14 to 20 April), of which 71 cases involved those who arrived from India.
Besides Singapore, Hong Kong also announced on Monday that it will ban all flights arriving from India, Pakistan and the Philippines, after the N501Y mutant COVID-19 strain was detected in the territory for the first time.
MOH also announced in the statement that it will ease border restrictions for travellers from Hong Kong.
“As the situation in Hong Kong has improved, we will reduce the SHN period from 14 days to 7 days which can be served at their place of residence if suitable. This will apply to travellers who have remained in Hong Kong in the last 14 consecutive days and who enter Singapore from 22 April 2021, 2359 hours,” said MOH.
Long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have recent travel history to the United Kingdom and South Africa within the last 14 days will also be allowed to enter Singapore, from 11.59pm on Thursday, after obtaining the relevant entry approvals.
The authorities have earlier restricted entry and transit from these countries due to concerns of a more contagious COVID-19 strain.
“Our existing border control and domestic measures have been able to contain the risks of community spread from imported cases with such variants, which is now present in many countries beyond (the) UK and South Africa,” MOH added.
Essential business and official travels continue
In the statement, MOH also noted that essential business and official travels will still continue certain critical discussion needs to be done face-to-face.
“To facilitate critical and essential official travel in a safe manner, we will allow fully-vaccinated individuals who travel to higher-risk countries/ regions as part of an official delegation to be subjected to a stringent testing and self-isolation regime from 22 April 2021, 2359 hours,” the Ministry stated.
It added, “They must adhere to a strict event-by-event controlled itinerary while overseas, and undergo COVID-19 PCR tests on-arrival, and on Day 3, Day 7 and Day 14 of their return.”
“As an added precaution, these travellers will also be required to undergo a 7-day self-isolation period at home (or in a hotel) upon return. They may only leave their place of accommodation to commute to the PCR test site or to the workplace for essential work that cannot be done remotely.”
As for travellers who are not fully vaccinated, they will continue to be subjected to prevailing border measures upon their return.