On Tuesday, April 7, the Singapore government passed a new law in parliament banning all social gatherings in homes and public spaces to curb the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). Private gatherings such as parties or gatherings with family and friends who do not live together are also included in the latest restrictions. Under the new law, the government will also be allowed to restrict individuals' movements and interactions at their residence and in public areas. According to authorities, the law will be valid for at least six months, and could be extended for up to one year.
The latest ban on social gatherings was announced on the same day domestic "circuit breaker" measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 came into effect. Most workplaces, except for those providing essential services, have been shut down. Exemptions have been made for markets, clinics, hospitals, utilities, transport, and key banking services. Restaurants will remain open but will be restricted to takeaway or delivery. Additionally, beginning Wednesday, April 8, all schools will close and will transition to home-based learning. The measures are slated to remain in place until Monday, May 4. As of Friday, March 27, all bars and entertainment venues, including discos and cinemas, have been shut down.
Meanwhile, an entry ban on all short-term visitors remains in place as of Sunday, March 23. 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.
As of Tuesday, April 7, the Ministry of Health has confirmed 1481 COVID-19 cases nationwide, with six associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is expected over the near term.
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 (Hubei province, 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 trouble 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.
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.
To reduce the risk of transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with 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 disease.