New border restrictions for Asean travellers to stem imported cases
Japan, Switzerland and the UK also affected, as Singaporeans urged to defer all non-essential travel abroad
Border restrictions have been tightened to include Asean countries, Japan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom as part of measures to reduce the rising risk of coronavirus importation.
From 11.59pm today, all travellers - including Singapore residents, long-term pass holders and short-term visitors - entering Singapore with recent travel history to these countries will be issued a two-week Stay Home Notice (SHN), the Ministry of Health said yesterday.
Singaporeans are also advised to defer all non-essential travel abroad to reduce their risks of contracting Covid-19.
The advisory will apply for 30 days subject to further review.
Those who have made plans to travel during the March school holidays should review them.
Of the 14 new cases confirmed yesterday, nine were imported.
More than three-quarters of the 25 new cases in the three days ending at noon on Saturday were imported, with close to 90 per cent being Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from overseas, MOH said yesterday.
More than a quarter of imported cases in the same period were from Asean countries.
Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on Covid-19, said yesterday that several of them were infected Indonesians seeking treatment here, with some heading straight to medical facilities after arriving.
While Singapore would welcome and help them in any other circumstances, the healthcare system must be prioritised for Singaporeans, he added.
"If you look at the recent cases... they are largely from Indonesia," Mr Wong told reporters.
"The ones who have come, are symptomatic, tested positive, and are now in ICU (intensive care unit) or hospital."
Under the new measures, nationals of Asean countries must submit health information to the respective Singapore Overseas Missions before they can travel to Singapore. Those who arrive without the necessary approval will be denied entry.
The new restrictions will not apply to Singaporeans and Malaysians who travel between the two countries using sea and land crossings, Mr Wong said.
Such restrictions are not practical as some 300,000 people use the land checkpoints daily.
"We do need precautions to be taken at these platforms, but it is going to be more complex given the high volume of people moving in and out of these checkpoints," he added.
"Separate arrangements are being worked out through the bilateral joint working group we have with Malaysia."
All other travellers from the affected countries must also provide proof of the place where they will serve the 14-day notice, such as a hotel booking covering the period, or a place of residence that they or their family members own.
They may also be swabbed for Covid-19, even if asymptomatic. The test is now done on travellers who show symptoms.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said employers and employment agencies must obtain its approval before new or returning foreign domestic workers can enter Singapore.
Returning maids can serve the SHN in their employer's home while new maids can do so at other accommodation.