Singapore bans visitors from Iran, northern Italy and South Korea
New measures include expanding definition of suspect cases, swab tests at checkpoints
Visitors with recent travel history to Iran, northern Italy and South Korea will no longer be allowed to enter Singapore, as the Republic ramps up its fight against the coronavirus spread.
Returning Singapore residents and long-term pass holders who have been to these areas in the last two weeks will be issued a Stay-Home Notice, which will require them to remain in their place of residence at all times for two weeks upon their return.
The new measures were announced by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong at a media doorstop yesterday.
The minister, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force fighting Covid-19 here, said the measures will kick in just before midnight today.
Said Mr Wong: "We have been monitoring the virus situation very closely and as all of you know, it is spreading quickly to countries everywhere. We have not included Japan for the incoming restrictions because the number of infected cases in Japan at this stage is still low compared to the other countries."
Iran, northern Italy and South Korea have each confirmed more than 1,000 cases.
Urging Singaporeans to defer non-essential travel to the three areas,the Ministry of Health said it has expanded the definition of suspect cases to include those with pneumonia or severe respiratory infection with breathlessness, who have been to Iran, northern Italy, South Korea and Japan in the last two weeks. Those who fall under the expanded definition will be referred to hospitals for further assessment.
The third new measure revealed yesterday was the introduction of swab tests at checkpoints. From just before midnight today, all travellers entering Singapore who have fever and other symptoms but do not fall under the suspect case definition will have to undergo a Covid-19 swab test on the spot.
They may carry on with their journey pending the results, which may take three to six hours, but will be advised to minimise contact with others.
They will be contacted once the results are confirmed and those who turn up positive will be taken to hospital.
Short-term visitors who refuse testing will be turned away from the borders, while Singapore permanent residents and long-term pass holders may have their privileges revoked.
All travellers, including Singaporeans, who do not comply with these tests may also be prosecuted under the Infectious Diseases Act.
Separately, SilkAir will be suspending flights to and from Hiroshima, Japan, from March 27 due to weak demand exacerbated by Covid-19.
Its spokesman said the last flight will be MI867, which will fly from Hiroshima to Singapore on March 26. Affected customers will be contacted and alternative arrangements will be made.
Mr Wong urged Singaporeans to be mentally prepared for spikes in Covid-19 cases here.
Noting the situations in Italy and South Korea, he said even as they proactively test for cases, all it takes is a single event to cause a spike in community transmission.
"It can happen in Singapore too," he added.