COVID-19: Singapore looking to activate more quarantine facilities, says Lawrence Wong

SINGAPORE — The Singapore government is looking to activate more quarantine facilities to prepare for the possible increase in the local spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus.

This is being done “in anticipation of a scenario where there is wider community transmission”, said National Development Minister Lawrence Wong during a media doorstop interview at the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday (17 February).

He noted that there are currently 1,200 people in the country who are under quarantine – about half of whom are in government facilities and the remainder on home quarantine. Wong added that the government quarantine facilities can currently accommodate about 2,000 people.

“So we still have some buffer. But we do need to build this up... As each case comes up we need to quarantine (the person’s) close contacts, then we do need more quarantine facilities,” he said.

Wong, who is co-chair of the multi-ministry task force tackling the virus’ spread, also explained that while some cases may be considered for home quarantine not everyone may be eligible for it.

Also announced during the doorstop was the government’s move to impose a new Stay-Home Notice (SHN) for travellers returning to Singapore from mainland China. The new policy, which takes effect from 11.59pm on Tuesday, will require such people to remain in their place of residence for 14 days upon their return.

Wong also spoke of the two Singaporeans aboard the MS Westerdam cruise ship that was recently allowed to dock at a Cambodian port after spending almost two weeks at sea. He revealed that both Singaporeans had since been transferred to a government quarantine facility and that no other passengers from the ship had been allowed into Singapore.

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