Stricter Stay-Home Notice isolation category introduced to combat Covid-19
Those who breach mandatory 14-day home stay could have long-term pass revoked or face prosecution
A new Stay-Home Notice (SHN) with stricter conditions will be introduced for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from China.
Unlike the leave of absence (LOA), which it replaces, the SHN makes it mandatory for returnees to remain at home at all times for 14 days.
Those who breach the SHN will be also be penalised.
Long-term pass holders will have their passes revoked, and residents will be prosecuted under the Infectious Diseases Act (IDA).
Two new cases of coronavirus infections were confirmed yesterday, bringing the total to 77.
They are a one-year-old Singaporean boy evacuated from Wuhan in China on Feb 9 and a 35-year-old Singaporean male close contact of an earlier patient who works in DBS Bank.
Five patients have been discharged, making it 24 patients who have fully recovered.
Announcing the SHN at a doorstop interview yesterday, National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said its introduction was in line with the Government constantly reassessing the Covid-19 situation here.
"When we started the LOA in January, there were 4,000 cases outside of Hubei province in China.
"Now it has tripled to 12,000," said Mr Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on the outbreak with Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.
"There are a substantial number of Singaporeans, permanent residents, and long-term pass holders still in China.
"At some point in time, they will want to come back... and there is a higher chance now that some of them will be infected with the virus."
The SHN scheme, which will take effect at 11.59pm today, will apply to all returnees with recent travel history to China, outside of Hubei province, within the last 14 days.
Those who return from Hubei must serve a 14-day quarantine, the strictest of the three isolation orders.
While LOAs will no longer be issued, those currently on LOAs will continue to serve them out.
Companies and institutions can still issue their own LOAs to staff and students at their own discretion.
Those serving the LOA are allowed to leave their residence for valid reasons, such as buying food or household essentials. This is forbidden under the SHN.
Noting that the SHN will allow for better allocation of resources, Mr Wong said: "It will ensure that we reduce the number of imported cases coming back from China, and then we can focus our energies on reducing the risk of local transmission of the virus within Singapore."
He stressed that the SHN will be strictly enforced using methods including technology and surveillance.
Those serving the SHN will be provided with food and daily necessities if needed.
OPTION TO FINE
Meanwhile, the authorities now have more options to punish those who breach orders aimed at controlling the spread of the virus.
After the IDA was updated last week, those who commit less serious offences can now pay compound fines instead of being charged in court.
The update will allow the Ministry of Health to calibrate its response to each individual breach, said its spokesman.
For example, those who have contact with infected people and fail to obey orders to isolate themselves, or behave in ways that can put others at risk of infection, could face composition fines.
Those contravening an order to declare certain places as isolation areas could also be fined.
The director of medical services, Associate Professor Kenneth Mak, will have the discretion whether to compound an offence.
"Offenders who have committed serious breaches of the IDA, including those who deliberately flout quarantine orders, will remain liable for prosecution," the spokesman added.
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Baby boy evacuated from Wuhan among two new confirmed coronavirus cases, five more discharged
A one-year-old boy who was evacuated from Wuhan is one of two new confirmed Covid-19 infections here.
The cases, which were revealed by the Ministry of Health (MOH) yesterday, bring the total number of infections here to 77.
Of these, five more have been discharged, bringing the total number of those who have fully recovered here to 24.
The Singaporean child, who is Case 76, was evacuated on a Scoot flight on Feb 9 and was without symptoms when he boarded the flight.
All Singaporeans evacuated from Wuhan were quarantined upon arrival and tested for the virus as an added precaution.
The boy was confirmed to be infected by the Covid-19 virus on Sunday afternoon and is warded at KK Women's and Children's Hospital.
A 35-year-old Singaporean man with no recent travel history to China was confirmed as Case 77.
He is a close contact of Case 50, a 62-year-old Singaporean who works at DBS.
Case 77 was confirmed yesterday morning and is warded at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
A total of 2,358 close contacts have been identified, of which 1,081 are still quarantined.
Test results for 103 cases are pending.
MOH said it continues to monitor the situation closely, and as medical practitioners look out for suspected cases, Singapore is likely to see more cases that will have to be investigated.
Assoc Prof Kenneth Mak, director of medical services at MOH, said yesterday that most of the 53 cases still in hospital are stable and improving.
But four are in critical condition and remain in intensive care.
"We will continue to provide the best care to these patients still in hospital," he said.
"We're continuing our epidemiological investigations on the local clusters identified earlier, as well as to identify links between the cases."
Assoc Prof Mak urged members of the public to practise good personal hygiene by washing their hands frequently and to avoid touching one's face.
"Even as we continue our investigations and contact tracing efforts, we'd like to reiterate the importance of personal hygiene in preventing further spread of the disease," he said.
"Each of us can do our part to exercise personal responsibility and take the necessary precautions to keep our loved ones safe."