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13 Mar 2020 | 01:03 AM UTC

Singapore: New entry restrictions to come into effect March 15 /update 11

Singapore to deny entry to foreign travelers from Italy, France, Spain, and Germany from March 15; additional quarantine measures in place

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Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) has announced new entry restrictions on travelers arriving in the country from Italy, France, Spain, and Germany due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Individuals who have visited those countries within 14 days of arrival will not be allowed entry or transit through Singapore. All Singaporean citizens, permanent residents, and long-term pass holders will be allowed entry but will be subject to a 14-day home quarantine. The new measure will come into effect at 23:59 (local time) on Sunday, March 15. Similar restrictions remain in place for travelers from mainland China, Iran, and South Korea.

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 if 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 to Italy, France, Spain, Germany, mainland China, Japan, and South Korea.

As of Friday, March 13, there are 91 active cases of COVID-19 in the country. 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 flexed elbow or tissue - throw tissue away immediately and wash hands.
  • If experiencing a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, seek medical care urgently and share your previous travel history with your health care provider.