SINGAPORE – Singapore is banning tourists and transit passengers starting 11:59 pm on Monday, March 23, in its boldest move yet to stem the rise of imported cases of the novel coronavirus in the city-state.
Singapore is also restricting the return of work pass holders and their dependents. The government said that starting 11:59 pm on Monday, it will take in returning work pass holders and dependents only if they are employed in essential industries such as transport and healthcare.
Singapore noted that nearly 80% of its new COVID-19 cases in the past 3 days were imported.
“In view of the heightened risk of importation of COVID-19 cases into Singapore, all short-term visitors will now not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore. This is also to conserve resources so we can focus on Singaporeans,” Singapore’s Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Sunday morning.
The MOH specified: “From 23 March 2020, 2359 hours, all short-term visitors (from anywhere in the world) will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore. Furthermore the Ministry of Manpower will only allow the entry/ return of work pass holders, including their dependents, for those providing essential services, such as in healthcare and transport.”
Before this, Singapore had allowed short-term visitors, except from a number of countries. The previous condition for short-term visitors was to comply with a government-issued Stay-Home Notice (SHN) that would require them to stay indoors for 14 days upon entry.
“This meant, however, that resources were being expended to serve and enforce SHNs on them, and if they fell ill, to provide them with medical treatment,” the MOH said, noting that on Saturday, March 21, “there were still 533 short-term visitors arriving in Singapore.”
Singapore has had 432 cases of the coronavirus as of Saturday, March 21. Of this number, 140 patients have fully recovered and have been discharged from the hospital, 14 are in critical condition, and most are stable and improving.
Two coronavirus patients died in Singapore on Saturday due to complications arising from the disease. The 75-year-old female Singaporean and 64-year-old male Indonesian who died were Singapore’s first two deaths due to COVID-19.
The city-state’s coronavirus cases include 14 Filipinos, a number of whom recently visited the Philippines. (READ: Singapore gets 6 more coronavirus cases from Philippine travelers)
The 14th Filipino coronavirus patient, reported by the MOH on Saturday, is a 66-year-old female long-term pass holder. She is considered an imported case who recently traveled to the Philippines.
The Philippines is among the countries that have exported coronavirus cases to Singapore.
Tourism plays a huge role in Singapore’s economy, contributing around 4% of the country’s gross domestic product. In the 3rd quarter of 2019 alone, for instance, Singapore had 14.3 million international visitors.
Before this new ban on tourists, the Singapore Tourism Board had projected in February that the city-state will lose 25-30% of international visitors due to the coronavirus, TheStraits Times reported.
At that time, Singapore was already losing 18,000 to 20,000 international visitors a day, according to STB chief executive Keith Tan. – Rappler.com