The Ministry of Health announced on Wednesday, March 18, that all international arrivals will be required to self-quarantine for 14 days as of 23:59 (local time) on Friday, March 20, to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). This includes Singapore citizens, permanent residents, pass holders, and short-term visitors. All arriving individuals will also have to provide proof of the place where they will serve the 14-day Stay-Home-Notice (SHN). Any traveler entering the country showing signs of fever or other symptoms of respiratory illness is required to undergo a COVID-19 swab test at entry checkpoints, and subsequently will be issued a 14-day SHN. Failure to comply with the terms of the SHN may result in a SGD 10,000 fine and/or 6-month imprisonment for the first offence, or revoking of residency or work passes.
Short-term visitors traveling from mainland China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, South Korea, or Spain will be denied entry or transit through Singapore. All other international travelers transiting through Singapore will not be issued a SHN.
The government also updated its travel advisory on March 18 advising Singaporeans to defer all travel abroad, following confirmation of 47 new COVID-19 cases - of which, 70 percent were citizens and residents returning from abroad.
As of Wednesday, Malaysia has restricted movement into the country. Only individuals working in "essential services" are allowed to enter the country until Tuesday, March 31.
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.
As of March 18, health officials have confirmed 196 active cases of COVID-19 in the country out of a total of 313 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 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.