COVID-19: All travellers entering S'pore to serve 14-day stay-home notice; S'poreans advised to defer all travel abroad

Nicholas Yong
Assistant News Editor
People wearing face masks seen outside the Woodlands Checkpoint on 17 March 2020. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman / Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — From Friday (20 March), all travellers entering Singapore must serve the 14-day stay-home notice as part of enhanced measures announced amid a spike of imported COVID-19 cases here.

Singaporeans have also been advised to defer all travel abroad immediately, said the COVID-19 multi-ministry taskforce at a media briefing on Wednesday night.

This supersedes an earlier advisory by the Ministry of Health (MOH) last Sunday to defer all non-essential travel aboard – previously, Singaporeans were also advised to defer all travel to Hubei province, home to Wuhan where COVID-19 originated.

The enhanced measure to serve stay-home notices, which bars those serving it from leaving their place of residence, to all travellers entering Singapore will take effect from 11.59pm on Friday.

The announcement comes after the taskforce revealed at a doorstop that there was a new single-day high of 47 COVID-19 cases in Singapore as of Wednesday, bringing the total to 313.

This is about twice the previous single-day high of 23 cases reported on Tuesday. Of the 47 new cases, 33 are imported, with 30 of them being Singapore residents and long-term pass holders who were infected abroad.

Almost 70 per cent of new COVID-19 cases in Singapore announced over the past three days were imported, said the MOH.

(TABLE: MOH)

“Even with these controls, we have to be mentally prepared for the number of imported cases to increase, because more Singaporeans want to come back – students, people working overseas,” said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who is the taskforce’s co-chair.

“But at least with the new measures, we can ensure that all arrivals will be required to self-isolate for 14 days, and we will enforce this strictly.”

However, he also called on for those who have been away before the expanded stay-home measure kicks in to "to self-isolate, at least for a few days, but the full 14 days if possible".

"If you are not feeling well, see a doctor as soon as possible. I believe the (Ministry of Education) MOE is going to announce new measures, additional precautions for those who have been overseas, even if they returned before the deadline, they will want the children to stay home for 14 days," Wong added.

On land crossings from Malaysia, he said there is a need for further bilateral discussions with the Malaysian authorities.

“What we have in mind is to provide for the many drivers who are coming through the Causeway delivering goods, you cannot expect them to drive through and then say, stay at home 14 days,” said Wong.

“But for anyone else (besides drivers), then the 14-day stay-home notice will apply."

The new stay-home notice measure is expanded from measures announced on Sunday – that only travellers with recent travel history to countries within the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) grouping, Japan, Switzerland or the United Kingdom – will need to serve the notice.

Besides Singapore, the countries that belong to ASEAN are Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.

Short-term visitors with recent travel history to mainland China, France, Germany, Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Spain remain banned from entering Singapore.

Any traveller exhibiting symptoms of respiratory illness such as fever will continue to be subjected to a nasal swab test for the coronavirus across all checkpoints.

As of Wednesday, there are over 204,000 COVID-19 cases globally, including over 8,200 deaths.

(INFOGRAPHIC: Yahoo News Singapore)