Singapore residents who insist on travelling to pay full cost for COVID-19 treatment

By Amir Hussain and Dhany Osman

SINGAPORE – Those who insist on travelling and are thereafter infected with the coronavirus within 14 days of returning to Singapore will be charged at unsubsidised rates for in-patient stay at public hospitals.

In a press conference on Tuesday (24 March) announcing this and other measures, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said that this will apply to Singapore residents and long-term pass holders from 11.59pm on Thursday.

In addition, these Singapore residents will also not be able to claim from MediShield Life or Integrated Shield Plans for COVID-19-related treatments at public and private hospitals.

Separately, any work pass holder or his or her dependants who leave Singapore from Friday will be deprioritised for entry approval. They may see “significant delays” before they are allowed back into Singapore, said MOH.

Health Minister and coronavirus multi-ministry taskforce co-chair Gan Kim Yong said that these measures are needed because the government expects more imported cases as the number of cases internationally continue to rise.

“Records from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority show that there are still about 1,000 Singapore residents and Long Term Pass holders who are travelling abroad daily despite our travel advisories,” said Gan.

“These individuals pose a risk to the health of fellow Singaporeans when they return,” he added.

Border restrictions

On Sunday, National Development Minister and taskforce co-chair Lawrence Wong announced that Singapore is barring short-term visitors from entering or transiting via the country.

Previously, except for a handful of countries, short-term visitors were allowed to enter Singapore, with the condition that they serve a 14-day stay-home notice. Separately, for work pass holders, only those involved in essential services like transport and healthcare would be allowed in.

“These are significant moves, especially for a small, open economy like Singapore that has always been connected to the world,” said Wong on Sunday. He added that the tighter border controls are also aimed at focusing the government’s resources on Singaporeans returning from abroad.

As of Monday, there are over 343,000 COVID-19 cases globally. More than 14,700 have died from the virus, the majority of them in China and Italy. The latter is now the country with the highest number of fatalities, surpassing China’s official count last week.

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