To slow the transmission of the COVID-19 virus, the Singapore government has introduced additional precautionary measures.
As announced in a media release by the Ministry of Health (MOH), the new measures include travel advisories against all non-essential travel and border restrictions for Italy, France, Spain and Germany.
With the World Health Organization (WHO) declaring the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic on 11 March 2020, governments around the world have been urged to do more to combat the virus.
As the Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong warned in a national broadcast yesterday, we must take additional measures, including further temporary travel restrictions, to break the transmission of the virus.
Travel advisories expanded to include Italy, France, Spain, and Germany
In light of the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Europe, MOH advises Singaporeans to defer all non-essential travel to Italy, France, Spain, and Germany. This is in addition tot he existing advisory to defer all travel to Hubei province in mainland China, and non-essential travel to the rest of mainland China, Iran, Japan and the Republic of Korea.
Singaporeans are also advised to exercise caution when travelling to all countries affected by COVID-19, especially those which have exported cases, namely (red font – Exported to Singapore):
- Mainland China
- Hong Kong
- Republic of Korea
- United Kingdom
- United States
Singaporeans who have made plans to travel during the upcoming March school holidays are advised to review their plans based on the latest advisory.
All travellers will be subject to the prevailing travel measures imposed by their destination countries, and those imposed by Singapore upon their return home.
Border restrictions: Italy, France, Spain, and Germany
Given the increase in imported cases from European countries, from 11.59 pm, 15 March 2020, all new visitors with recent travel history to Italy, France, Spain, and Germany within the last 14 days will not be allowed entry into Singapore, or transit through Singapore.
Additionally, from 11.59 pm, 15 March 2020 the following groups will be issued with a Stay-Home Notice (SHN):
- Residents (Singapore Citizens and Permanent Residents) with recent travel history to Italy, France, Spain and Germany within the last 14 days.
- Long-term pass holders (including work passes, Student’s Pass, Dependant’s Pass, and Long-term Visit Pass) with recent travel history to Italy, France, Spain and Germany within the last 14 days.
As previously announced, people under SHN will have to remain in their place of residence at all times for 14 days after returning to Singapore.
Residents and long-term pass holders returning from mainland China (outside Hubei province), Iran, and the Republic of Korea will continue to be issued a 14-day SHN upon return to Singapore.
How this will impact businesses
Employers should take note of the travel advisories and refrain from sending employees on non-essential business trips to the affected countries and monitor the health of employees who have recently returned from overseas.
Employers should also advise employees to check the list of affected areas on the MOH website before making any non-work-related travel plans.
If an employee is issued a SHN, in accordance with previous announcements, employers should:
- Provide paid leave of absence over and above their annual leave. This should be adopted if the travel was work-related;
- Allow employees to apply for annual leave;
- Treat employees’ leave of absence as sick leave;
- Allow employees to apply for no-pay leave, for employees who have used up their leave entitlements;
- Other mutually agreed arrangements
Additional precautionary measures: COVID-19 swab test at the checkpoint SHN for all travellers with symptoms
Since 4 March 2020, travellers entering Singapore and exhibiting fever and/or other symptoms of respiratory illness are required to undergo a COVID-19 swab test at the checkpoint, regardless of travel history.
With immediate effect, all such travellers will also be issued a 14-day SHN, which they will have to serve in full even if the result of the swab test is negative. Those who meet the clinical suspect case definition will be conveyed to the hospital for follow-up.
With immediate effect, Singapore will also cease port calls for all cruise vessels.
Additional social distancing measures have also been introduced to curb local transmission of the virus within Singapore.
In the past two weeks, the number of cases of COVID-19 outside China has increased more than ten-fold, and the number of affected countries has tripled. There are now more than 125,000 cases in 118 countries, and more than 4,000 deaths. In Singapore, as of 12 March, almost 25% of our total number of confirmed cases were imported. Over the past ten days alone, there have been 23 imported cases, or nearly a third of all new cases. These included 13 cases with travel history to European countries, and six cases from Indonesia.
Photo / 123RF