At a press briefing announcing the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble yesterday (26 Apr), Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung was asked about Indian nationals flying in from other countries to bypass the current travel ban flying directly from India.
Ong replied that a traveller who has left India but stayed in another country before flying to Singapore would not have the same level of risk as someone who came directly from India.
The soon-to-be Health Minister said that anyone staying in one place long enough would assume the risk profile of that place. “I think, as a matter of general infection control knowledge, regardless of your nationality, if you stay in a place long enough, you assume the risk profile of that place,” he said.
“You may be from another country, but once you stay in a new country for a while, you assume a new risk profile.”
“But if your policy is to target risk, then for someone from a high-risk country to move to a lower risk country, stay there for some time, and after that remain non COVID-positive, remain negative, and then come to Singapore … they have lowered the risk in that process,” added Mr Ong.
In recent days, many Indian nationals on long-term and short-term passes have tried to use a third country to stay for 14 days before flying off to enter Singapore.
For example, Nepali media reported last Wed (21 Apr) that Indian nationals have been flying into Nepal, packing the hotels in Kathmandu before flying off to their destination countries including Singapore (‘Indian nationals use Nepal to circumvent travel bans resulting in crowding in hotels at Kathmandu‘).
Singapore starting banning travellers except Singapore citizens and PRs to enter here if they have been in India in the past 14 days. The ban started at 11.59pm last Friday (23 Apr). This includes visitors who transit in India and those who had earlier obtained approval for entry into Singapore.
The border measure was implemented amid a spike in COVID-19 infections in India. On Monday, India’s daily coronavirus cases set a new global record for the fifth straight day. With 352,991 new cases, India’s total caseload has crossed 17 million. Deaths rose by a new daily record of 2,812 to reach a total of 195,123.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Health confirmed that there were 23 imported cases who had travelled directly from India. They included Indian nationals and PRs. They also included 7 Singapore citizens. Another 6 Indian nationals who were tested positive came from third countries Nepal and Sri Lanka.