Finally, Singaporean authorities have banned entry from any person who traveled to or from China in the past fourteen days. Health officials announced the ban after they confirmed the first Singaporean infected with the Wuhan coronavirus.
According to a report by The Straits Times, the ban comes into effect starting February 1, 2020, at 11:59pm. This means that once midnight on February 2, 2020, Sunday, rolls in, people who have been to China (whether they are mainland Chinese nationals or from other countries) won’t be allowed to go to Singapore.
Immigration officers will thoroughly check each traveler’s passport to see if they had been to China in the past 14 days. Anyone who does not pass the inspection will not be allowed into the country.
Who is the first Singaporean to have the Wuhan novel coronavirus?
Officially named nCoV ARD, which means acute respiratory syndrome, the virus was confirmed in one of the repatriated Singaporeans from Wuhan. The 47-year-old woman did not show any symptoms when she boarded the flight, but a temperature screening indicated a fever on Thursday.
The confirmatory test came back with positive results on Friday, January 31. She was warded in an isolation room at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.
More measures to protect Singaporeans from new cases
Even as the country handles several cases of nCoV ARD, officials have stopped issuing Singapore visas to Chinese passport holders.
For Chinese nationals that can prove that they did not travel to and from China in the past fourteen days, visas may be granted on a case-to-case basis, reportedly.
The Minister for Development, Lawrence Wong, said on Friday, January 31, that “On top of all that we’ve already introduced over the past few days, (this) will enable us to limit the number of new imported cases here and to reduce risk of community spread in Singapore.
“The situation remains fluid, it’s constantly changing, and we do not rule out taking further measures.”
Minister Wong is the co-chair of the inter-agency task force formed to combat the spread of virus.
A separate report from The Straits Times said that Singaporeans citizens, permanent residents, and long-term-pass holders, as well as work pass holders who are returning from China will be placed under fourteen days Leave of Absence. No new work pass applications shall be issued until further notice.
People on LOA are expected to stay at home and have no social contact. Should any symptoms of the disease surface during their self-quarantine, they should go to the nearest hospital to get checked specifically for the virus.
So is it finally time to wear a face mask all the time?
Aside from the non-issuance of passports, Singaporean officials have already allocated four surgical masks for each household to be distributed through various local centres. A previous report on Alvinology said that depending on the needs of the family, the Ministry of Health may issue more masks.
The advisory from the MOH is still in place regarding the usage of face masks. As per their infographic, you do not need to use a mask if you are not sick. Only people who are sick, or have just come from a bout of illness need to wear masks to protect other people from catching their disease.