SINGAPORE — From Wednesday (26 February) 2359, new visitors with recent travel history to the Korean city of Daegu and county of Cheongdo within the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Tuesday amid the worsening COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak in South Korea.
The announcement comes as South Korea continues to grapple with a surge in confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in recent days.
As of Tuesday night, South Korea reported 977 COVID-19 cases, including 11 deaths. The majority of them are linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu and over 100 to Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo.
Daegu and Cheongdo have been designated as “special care zones”.
The South Korean government has raised the alert level to the highest level of “serious”.
Residents in Singapore - Singaporeans and permanent residents - and long-term pass holders with recent travel history to Daegu and Cheongdo in the last 14 days will be issued with a Stay-Home Notice (SHN).
Those who are served with the SHN have to remain in their place of residence at all times for 14 days after returning to Singapore from Daegu and Cheongdo.
MOH on Sunday advised travellers to avoid non-essential travel to Daegu and Cheongdo, and exercise caution when travelling to the rest of South Korea.
On 1 February at 2359, a similar ban on all new visitors with recent travel history to China to enter or transit through Singapore took effect. The ban was expanded from an earlier curb for new visitors with travel history to the Chinese province of Hubei within the last 14 days.
COVID-19 situation in Italy
At a media conference on Tuesday, the multi-ministry taskforce on the coronavirus said if the situation in South Korea were to worsen and affect more areas beyond Daegu and Cheongdo, it would impose further restrictions for travel to the country.
The taskforce was asked about the reasons for not imposing similar restrictions for recent travel to Italy. As of Tuesday, Italy has reported a total of 270 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths from the outbreak, mostly in a number of towns in the Lombardy and Veneto regions.
Lawrence Wong, co-chair of the taskforce and National Development Minister, said the government is “very mindful” of the travel-related risk from Italy as well.
The taskforce has looked at some of the measures that the Italian government has done to curb the outbreak and thus far, it has been strict and prompt in identifying the cases, and locked down affected places, Wong said.
“If you look at the volume of travel from these places (in Italy) to Singapore, it's nowhere near the volume of travel that we are talking about with respect to South Korea and Singapore. So for all of these reasons, we have not applied the same travel restrictions that we did for the two Korean cities to these small cities in the Lombardy region.”
Nonetheless, the taskforce is monitoring the situation in Italy very carefully, Wong said. He pointed out that Milan is in Lombardy, and there are direct flights between the capital of the region and Singapore.
additional reporting by Dhany Osman
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