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21 Mar 2020 | 11:14 PM UTC

Singapore: All short-term visitors barred from entering the country March 23 /update 14

All short-term visitors prohibited from entering Singapore from March 23 to prevent further spread of COVID-19; social distancing measures in effect

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Event

Singapore’s government announced on Sunday, March 22, that all short-term visitors will be denied entry to the country to prevent further spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). The new restriction will come into effect at 23:59 (local time) on Monday, March 23. Also on Sunday, the Ministry of Manpower announced that only work pass holders, and their dependents, who provide essential services, such as healthcare and transport, will be allowed to enter the country. Malaysians with Singapore work permits will continue to be able to work in Singapore. All Singapore citizens, permanent residents, and long-term pass holders returning to the country will be issued a 14-day Stay at Home Notice (SHN) and must remain in the place of residence at all times.

Social distancing measures are in place as of Sunday. All ticketed cultural, sports, and entertainment events with 250 or more participants must be delayed or canceled. Food and beverage and retail establishments must limit large numbers of people gathering in close proximity. Customers must be able to sit or stand in queue with at least 1 meter of space between individuals. Health screenings, including temperature measurements, are in place for large gatherings and at various businesses and restaurants. Public sector agencies have started introducing telecommuting and staggered work hours.

As of March 22, health officials have confirmed 290 active cases of COVID-19 in the country out of a total of 430 recorded cases. The Ministry of Health's Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level remains at "orange" (the second highest on a four-tier scale). Further international spread of COVID-19 is expected in the coming days and weeks.

Context

The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.

Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantining measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.

Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and labored breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia. 

Advice

Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly, and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.

Potentially impacted travelers are advised to monitor the situation, confirm travel itineraries, and adhere to all instructions issued by local authorities. 

To reduce the general risk of transmission, individuals are advised to abide the following measures: 

  • Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the virus.