Singapore has put in place several lines of defence to guard against the local spread of COVID-19.

Reducing the risk of imported cases

A Multi-Ministry taskforce has a series of drawer plans and measures at the border. They range from the screening of in-bound travellers, to placing high-risk travellers into quarantine, as well as restricting travel for those who have recently been to at-risk countries.

Temperature and health screenings will be done at all land, sea and air checkpoints. 

High-risk travellers will be quarantined. As an additional precaution, healthcare teams have been deployed at the aerobridge for all incoming flights from China to identify and pull aside passengers who look unwell.

ICA is no longer issuing new visas to those with PRC passports, and suspending all such visas, because the vast majority of such travellers coming in for short visits would have been in China recently. For PRC passport holders who have not been in China in the past 14 days, ICA will be prepared to issue them a short-term visitor pass or extend their short-term pass.

In view of the recent increase in the number of confirmed cases in the Republic of Korea, particularly in Daegu city and Cheongdo county, MOH announced on 25 Feb 2020 that all new visitors with recent travel history to Daegu and Cheongdo within the last 14 days will not be allowed entry into Singapore, or transit through Singapore.

Detecting and containing COVID-19

Beyond border controls, Singapore’s second line of defence is to identify and isolate the people with the virus, as well as all of the close contacts of the infected persons. 

A well-established contact tracing procedure is in place. This procedure was put in place during SARS, and has continued to be fine-tuned through emergency exercises, and through experiences dealing with previous outbreaks like MERS and H1N1.

All of the outstanding suspect cases have been isolated, whereas the close contacts of the confirmed cases are now on quarantine. 

Quarantine orders and Leave of Absence are in place to protect Singaporeans from the spread of the virus. Those on LOA are expected to remain in their residence as much as possible, minimise visitors, and maintain a record of persons they come into close contact with. 

Community and individual responsibility

Every Singaporean needs to play their part as well – to take all necessary precautions, and to exercise individual and collective responsibility. 

Everyone needs to practice good personal hygiene, wash their hands regularly and not touch their faces with their hands; cover their mouths when they cough or sneeze. If they have flu-like symptoms, they should avoid public places, and wear a mask on the way to the clinic, so they do not risk infecting others. 

Employers can help by ensuring their employees who have just returned from China stay at home under LOA. If anyone in the office is sick, employers should immediately ask them to see a doctor, and stay at home to recover.

Collectively, everyone will need to have a responsibility to not spread unverified information or false news, which can cause alarm or panic.

Watch Minister Lawrence speak about how Singapore is safeguarding itself from COVID-19 in a number of ways, in Parliament on 3 Feb 2020.