Severity: Critical Alert

Entry/Exit: Singapore to close most workplaces from April 7 and all schools from April 8, due to COVID-19. Other preventive measures remain.

This alert affects Singapore

This alert began 03 Apr 2020 10:44 GMT and is scheduled to expire 20 Apr 2020 23:59 GMT.

  • Incident: Restrictions
  • Location(s): Nationwide (map)
  • Time Frame: Indefinite
  • Impact: Transport restrictions, enhanced health screenings, quarantine measures, business disruptions

Summary
Officials in Singapore announced several new preventive measures, including the closure of most workplaces from April 7 and suspension of all schools from April 8, to stem the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19). The measures will remain in force through at least May 4. Authorities are requiring workplaces to implement telecommuting, while only businesses that offer essential services can continue to operate for the duration of the measures; businesses providing essential services include the medical and transport sectors, as well as food suppliers such as supermarkets and wet markets.

Officials will close all attractions, theme parks, museums, casinos, and sports and recreation facilities from April 7. Authorities have also halted all religious services and congregations and suspended all center-based tuition and enrichment classes. Additionally, the government will also ban dining in at all food and beverage outlets. The government is also maintaining the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) at the second-highest level of orange as of April 3.

Numerous flight cancellations have occurred due to significantly decreased demand and travel restrictions. The state carrier Singapore Airlines (SQ) and its subsidiaries, Scoot (TR) and SilkAir (MI), have suspended most of its scheduled flights, while the Singapore-based airline JetStar Asia Airways (3K) has suspended operations through April 15.

Travel Restrictions

Officials have banned entry or transit of all short-term visa holders; the measure also extends to work pass holders and their dependents, with exemptions for those providing essential services like healthcare and transport. The government continues to issue a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) to all inbound travelers, including Singaporean citizens, permanent residents, and long-term pass holders. Arriving passengers also need to provide proof of the intended home quarantine location, such as the address of a private residence or a hotel booking, for at least 14 days. Officials are also requiring Singapore residents returning from the UK and the US to serve their SHN at designated hotels to reduce local transmission risks.

Authorities are requiring all arriving passengers to submit an online health declaration up to three days before entering the country. Officials are also continuing to conduct enhanced health screenings for incoming travelers at all points of entry. Authorities are requiring passengers who show COVID-19 symptoms to undergo a swab test upon arrival in Singapore and will transfer travelers who meet the clinical suspect case definition to hospitals for further checks. All long-term visit pass and student pass holders also need to apply for government approval before traveling to Singapore. The government has also advised residents to avoid nonessential international travel. Authorities may further expand travel restrictions and other measures in the coming weeks, particularly if COVID-19 activity increases in-country.

Background and Analysis
The measures adopted by the government correspond with similar actions taken by other regional governments in recent days in response to the spread of COVID-19. COVID-19 is a viral respiratory disease caused by infection with the SARS-CoV-2 virus (previously known as 2019-nCoV). Symptoms occur 1-14 days following exposure (average of 3-7 days). These symptoms include fever, fatigue, cough, difficulty breathing, sometimes worsening to pneumonia and kidney failure - especially in those with underlying medical conditions. On March 11, the WHO declared the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic.

Advice
Postpone travel if affected by entry/exit restrictions. Confirm flight status before checking out of accommodation and departing for the airport. Follow all official instructions. Abide by national health and safety measures. Reconfirm all travel arrangements. Consider delaying traveling if experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19, as they may prompt increased scrutiny and delays. Liaise with trusted contacts for further updates and guidance. Maintain contact with your diplomatic representation. Ensure contingency plans account for further disruptive measures or extensions of current restrictions. Reconsider and reconfirm nonemergency health appointments. Plan for queues and delays at available shopping centers.

Emphasize basic health precautions, especially frequent handwashing with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable. Practice good coughing/sneezing etiquette (i.e., covering coughs and sneezes with a disposable tissue, maintaining distance from others, and washing hands). There is no evidence that the influenza vaccine, antibiotics, or antiviral medications will prevent this disease, highlighting the importance of diligent basic health precautions.

Resources
World Health Organization (WHO): www.who.int

Ministry of Health: www.moh.gov.sg