Singapore Ban UK travelers & tighter measures for those with travel history to New South Wales over new COVID-19 virus strain

Singapore Ban UK travelers & tighter measures for those with travel history to New South Wales over new COVID-19 virus strain

SINGAPORE: Long-term cross holders and short-term travelers with a current journey to the United Kingdom will not be allowed entry into Singapore from 11.59 pm on Wednesday (Dec 23), mentioned the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday.

The travelers, including short-term guests who’ve been to the UK within the final 14 days, won’t be allowed to enter or transit by Singapore, mentioned the ministry.

The announcement adopted the discovery of a new highly infectious strain of the novel coronavirus within the UK, which British Health Secretary Matt Hancock mentioned was “out of control”. 

“There have been current reports of a probably more contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus circulating within the UK,” mentioned MOH.

“Officers throughout the UK are also involved in this new virus and have put in place more stringent restrictions, including imposing a new lockdown in London.

“To reduce the danger of spread to Singapore, we’re putting in place new border restrictions for travelers from the UK for further precaution,” mentioned the ministry.

The transfer by Singapore follows similar measures by different locations that have already banned flights from Britain, including Hong Kong, India, Germany, and France.

The ban can even apply to travelers who had obtained prior approval for entry into Singapore.

Returning Singapore residents and everlasting residents will likely be required to undergo a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival in Singapore, firstly of their 14-day stay-home discovery.

Under current rules, all eligible travelers arriving from the UK must serve a 14-day stay-home notice at a dedicated facility. Non-residents are also required to produce a negative COVID-19 swab test taken within 72 hours earlier than their flight to Singapore.

Health authorities within the UK mentioned the new strain maybe 70 percent extra infectious. Though a lot is not recognized in regards to the strain, specialists say the current vaccines ought to still be efficient against it.

“Whereas the pressure has been steered to be extra transmissible, there may be currently insufficient proof to find out if this pressure is associated with any change in disease severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy,” mentioned MOH.

“These facets are being investigated by UK authorities. The Ministry of Health will evaluate the data as it emerges and evaluates our border measures accordingly.”

The World Health Group cautioned against major alarm over the new highly COVID-19 variant, saying this was a normal part of a pandemic’s evolution.

The new variant carries mutations that could mean children are as susceptible to becoming infected with it as adults – unlike earlier strains, scientists from the UK government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) said on Monday.

TIGHTER MEASURES FOR NEW SOUTH WALES TRAVELLERS

Border measures for these with travel history to New South Wales in Australia within the previous 14 days will also be tightened from 11.59 pm on Wednesday due to a resurgence in the variety of cases, mentioned MOH.

All travelers from Australia will be required to declare their travel history at airline check-in prior to their flight to Singapore.

Short-term travelers holding an Air Travel Pass and who’ve traveled to New South Wales within the final 14 days before departure for Singapore won’t be allowed to enter the country.

Singapore residents, permanent residents, and long-term cross holders will be subject to a seven-day stay-home notice at their place of residence, with a COVID-19 PCR test before the end of the notice interval.

Currently, all travelers from Australia are allowed to undergo a COVID-19 PCR test upon arrival. If the test is negative, they will be allowed to go about their activities in Singapore without a need to serve a stay-home notice.

New South Wales, which is Australia’s most populous state, on Tuesday reported eight new locally acquired COVID-19 cases in the past 24 hours, down from 15 the previous day.

That is its lowest one-day rise in COVID-19 circumstances in practically a week, fuelling optimism that contact tracing and social distancing have been working to convey a dangerous new outbreak in Sydney below control. 

Seven of the new cases have been traced to a cluster in Sydney’s northern beachside suburbs.

The cluster, which was first detected final week, has now grown to 90 cases as authorities battle to contain the flare-up just days earlier than Christmas. 

Responding to CNA’s queries, Singapore Airlines (SIA) mentioned on Tuesday that passengers from the UK who have had their flights canceled or are now not able to travel as they do not meet the entry requirements will be lined by its international waiver coverage, and might retain the value of their ticket as flight credit, rebook or search a refund. 

When requested in regards to the impact of the new measures on capacity, SIA said: “We remain guided by regulatory authorities and will make adjustments to our capacity if required.” 

COVID-19 “STILL RAGING”: LAWRENCE WONG

Chatting with the media after the new measures have been announced, Minister for Education Lawrence Wong mentioned there had been “not very many” travelers from the UK, and those that got here to Singapore weren’t exposed to the group because they were required to serve a stay-home discover. 

“From that viewpoint, there may be already safety. However we have now assessed the situation and we have now decided to take an additional stage of precaution,” mentioned Mr. Wong, who co-chairs the COVID-19 multi-ministry task drive. 

Mr. Wong mentioned that the tightening of restrictions is a reminder that “we can not let our guard down”.

“Sure, we’re all cheered by the arrival of the vaccines final night as well as the impending entry into Phase 3. However, let’s all remind ourselves that the virus is still raging in all places in the world and we are now having to battle a new and extra contagious strain of the virus.”

The minister added that whereas the authorities remain vigilant “all around our borders … in the community too we need each Singaporean to stay vigilant and to cooperate with the measures that we have put in place”.

“We hope everybody will do their half so that we can keep focused and disciplined, all the best way to the end till we win this fight against COVID-19,” he mentioned.

The first shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Singapore on Monday, making it the first nation in Asia to obtain the vaccines.

The vaccine shipment comes a week before Singapore enters Phase 3 of its reopening.

In Phase 3, social gatherings of up to eight individuals allowed and households will be permitted to obtain up to eight visitors at any one time.

The authorities will also improve capacity limits for venues. For malls and huge standalone stores, the capacity restriction will be increased from 10 sq m per person to 8 sq m per person. 

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