Singapore takes unprecedented step to bar all short-term visitors
It takes unprecedented move to reduce risk of importing Covid-19 cases
Singapore will significantly tighten borders from 11.59pm today, with all short-term visitors no longer allowed to enter or transit through the country in a move to reduce the risk of importing coronavirus cases.
Work pass holders and their dependants will be allowed to return to Singapore only if they are employed in sectors that provide essential services such as healthcare and transport.
This will also kick in at 11.59pm today, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement yesterday.
The measures were announced a day after two patients - a 75-year-old Singaporean woman and a 64-year-old Indonesian man - died from Covid-19 due to complications. They were the first deaths the Republic has seen in the outbreak.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said at a briefing yesterday the measures to "significantly tighten" Singapore's borders are taken in view of the escalating Covid-19 outbreak around the world.
To date, there are more than 260,000 cases worldwide and around 11,200 deaths.
Previously, except for a handful of countries, short-term visitors were allowed to enter but were issued a 14-day stay-home notice (SHN) upon arrival.
This meant resources were being expended to serve and enforce SHNs, and if they fell ill, to provide them with medical treatment, said Mr Wong. On Saturday, there were 533 short-term visitors who arrived in Singapore.
The MOH said almost 80 per cent of new cases here over the past three days were imported, most of them Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning from abroad.
There were 23 new cases confirmed as of noon yesterday, with 18 of these imported. This brings the total number of cases in Singapore to 455, of which 144 have fully recovered.
As previously announced, all Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders returning will continue to be issued a 14-day SHN.
In addition, Malaysians with Singapore work permits can continue to work in the Republic during this period, with accommodation arrangements.
Transport of goods between both countries will also be facilitated, the Singapore-Malaysia Special Working Committee has agreed.
Yesterday, Mr Wong said the border restrictions were significant moves, especially for a small open economy like Singapore that has always been connected to the world.
"But this is an unprecedented crisis," he said.
On how long these measures will remain in place, he said: "I can't say at this stage.
"It depends on how long the outbreak is going to continue in Europe and America, which are now the new epicentres for the virus outbreak.
"It (also) depends on how long more we will see returning Singaporeans coming back."