The Ministry of Health announced more entry restrictions for travelers from an additional 12 countries on Sunday, March 15, to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). All individuals entering Singapore after 23:59 (local time) on Monday, March 16, that have traveled to the ASEAN countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Brunei, Myanmar, and the Philippines, or from Japan, Switzerland, or the UK within the previous 14 days will be issued a Stay-Home-Notice (SHN). Each individual will also have to provide proof of the place where they will carry out their 14-day SHN. All short-term visitors who are nationals of any ASEAN country will be required to submit information on their health to the Singapore Overseas Mission in their country of residence prior to their intended date of travel to Singapore. Border authorities will deny entry to any individual that fails to acquire the necessary approval. The order is in addition to a previous announcement ordering all residents and long-term pass holders returning from mainland China, Iran, Italy, France, Germany, South Korea, and Spain to undergo a 14-day SHN upon return to Singapore, while short-term visitors from these countries will be denied entry or transit through the Republic. The Ministry of Health said these border restrictions will be reviewed in 30 days from March 15.
Additional measures are also in place to prevent further spread of COVID-19. All travelers entering the country showing signs of fever or other symptoms of respiratory illness are required to undergo a COVID-19 swab test at entry checkpoints. Any individual tested for the virus must complete a 14-day home quarantine regardless of whether the test result is negative. All ticketed cultural, sports, and entertainment events with 250 or more participants must be delayed or canceled. Health screenings, including temperature measurements, are in place for large gatherings and at various businesses and restaurants. The government has also advised Singaporeans to defer all non-essential travel.
As of March 15, health officials have confirmed 121 active cases of COVID-19 in the country out of a total of 226 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.
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.
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 flexed elbow or tissue - throw 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.