- The Straits Times
Update: This article was last updated at 12pm on March 20, 2020 to reflect cases reported on March 19 night.
Out of Singapore’s 119 new coronavirus cases from March 16 to 19, 85 cases – or 71 per cent – were imported infections from overseas.
Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) said in an earlier advisory that most of these imported cases were Singapore residents and long-term pass holders who returned to the Republic after travelling abroad.
On Thursday (Mar 19), all 24 imported cases were Singapore residents and long-term pass holders with travel history to Europe, North America and Asean countries. The day before, 30 out of 33 imported cases – or almost 91 per cent – were Singapore residents and long-term pass holders.
At a press conference held on Wednesday, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, said that while authorities were able to detect the imported cases early, the number of imported cases is expected to rise in the coming days, especially with more Singaporeans wanting to return home.
“At this time, there are students in Europe; in the US, there are people working overseas, who are all wanting to come back, particularly during this critical period.
“And we have to expect, given the way the virus is transmitting overseas, that some of the returning Singaporeans will also be infected,” Wong, who is also co-chair of the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on Covid-19, said.
Singaporeans urged not to travel overseas at all
On Wednesday, Singapore reported 47 new cases of the coronavirus – the highest single day increase here since the outbreak began – before falling to 32 the next day.
The jump in number of imported cases has prompted the Government to advise Singaporeans against all overseas travels immediately.
“This supercedes our earlier advisory announced on March 15 to defer all non-essential travel abroad,” the ministry said in a statement.
This is to “reduce the risk of Singaporeans being infected with the virus when abroad, and spreading it to other Singaporeans when they return”, it added.
Everyone entering Singapore will have to serve 14-day SHN
On top of that, Singapore will implement even stricter border controls from 11.59pm on Friday.
Under these new measures, all Singaporeans, permanent residents, long-term pass holders and short term visitors entering Singapore will be issued a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN).
Those affected will have to provide proof of the place where they will serve the SHN, which requires them to stay in their place of residence for the entire 14 days.
Short-term visitors with recent travel history to mainland China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Republic of Korea and Spain, remain banned from entering or transiting in Singapore.
These new measures will “ensure that all arrivals into Singapore will be required to self-isolate for a full 14 days”, Wong said at the press conference.
“Even if there are more cases amongst the returnees, we can isolate them, treat them and minimise the risks of the virus transmitting more broadly to other Singaporeans. That is our key objective,” he added.
As of March 19, Singapore has had 345 cases of coronavirus infection, of which 124 have fully recovered.
A total of 15 people are currently in critical condition, MOH said.
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