Singapore residents have been advised to defer all non-essential travel abroad, while border restrictions have been expanded to include all South-east Asian countries, as the island nation ramps up measures to curb the risk of imported Covid-19 cases.
The travel advisory for Singapore residents will apply for 30 days, and is subject to further review, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) in a press statement released yesterday (March 15).
From 23.59 today (March 16), all travellers, including Singapore residents, long-term pass holders, and short-term visitors, entering Singapore with recent travel history to South-east Asian countries, Japan, Switzerland, or the UK within the last 14 days will be issued a 14-day stay-home notice (SHN).
This will exclude travellers from Malaysia who arrive by land and sea, as large numbers cross the borders daily, said national development minister Lawrence Wong at a press conference on Sunday, reported The Straits Times.
The report also quoted Wong, who co-chairs a Singapore multi-ministry task force to fight the Covid-19, as saying that separate arrangements are being made by a bilateral joint working group.
All other travellers affected by the new border restrictions will also have to provide proof of the place where they will serve the 14-day SHN, for example, a hotel booking covering the entire period, or a place of residence they or their family members own.
They may also be swabbed for testing for Covid-19, even if asymptomatic, due to the risk of community transmission in these countries and evidence of cases that have been imported from these countries into Singapore, said MOH.
In addition to the SHN requirement, from 23.59 today (March 16), all short-term visitors who are nationals of any South-east Asian country will have to submit requisite information on their health to the Singapore Overseas Mission in their country of residence before their intended date of travel.
The submission will have to be approved by Singapore’s MOH before they travel to Singapore, and the approval will be verified by the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) officers at the Singapore checkpoints.
Short-term visitors who arrive in Singapore without the necessary approval will be denied entry into Singapore.
The extra measures come as Singapore has seen an increase of 25 new Covid-19 cases in the past three days, said MOH in its statement.
Of these, more than three-quarters were imported cases, of which close to 90 per cent were Singapore residents and long-term pass holders who had returned to Singapore from overseas.
During the same period, more than one-quarter of imported cases were from South-east Asian countries, the ministry added.
The MOH also said that it has seen a number of these cases entering Singapore for the purpose of seeking medical care, adding that it imposes a significant burden on Singapore’s healthcare resources during this critical period when they are focused on containing the situation within Singapore.
The latest restrictions follow a range of sweeping measures announced by the government last Friday to curb the spread of the virus in the country, including more border restrictions and social distancing measures.