SINGAPORE: Be responsible and stay at home if you have just returned from abroad, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong in a Facebook post on Wednesday (Mar 25), following a Parliament session where substantive updates on the COVID-19 outbreak were delivered.
"You must protect your families and everyone else, in case you turn out to be infected, which unfortunately some returnees will be. Glad that many are behaving responsibly by staying home, but some are not," he wrote.
"Please comply – it is irresponsible to gallivant off to eat local food you miss or to go partying with friends, when you are supposed to stay at home and isolate yourself. You will also be breaking the law."
Singapore has seen a spike in imported COVID-19 cases, many of whom are Singapore residents returning from overseas.
As of Tuesday, there have been 558 cases of the coronavirus found here, with 155 patients recovered and discharged. Two people have died of the disease.
Authorities have tightened measures to slow the spread of the virus in recent days and returnees from any country will need to serve a 14-day stay-home notice. Additional safe distancing measures have also been introduced to prevent local transmission, limiting gatherings to 10 or fewer people.
Earlier on Tuesday, Law and Home Affairs Minister K Shanmugam told Parliament that those who breach stay-home notices will be charged in court. Those convicted may be fined up to S$10,000, jailed up to six months or both.
Health Minister Gan Kim Yong told Singaporeans to prepare for an "expected surge" in COVID-19 cases in the coming weeks.
"Over the coming weeks, the number of cases will continue to rise, as some of our around 200,000 overseas Singaporeans return home from all over the world," Mr Gan said in a ministerial statement in Parliament.
National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs a COVID-19 task force with Mr Gan, also warned that the outbreak was going to be a "very long fight", and teared when he spoke of the sacrifices made by the healthcare workers on the front line.
Urging every one to keep a safe distance from others, maintain high levels of hygiene and to heed government advisories, Mr Lee said: "Lawrence Wong spoke for us all when he gave heartfelt thanks to our healthcare workers, public officers, volunteers, and many unsung heroes who are fighting hard against COVID-19.
"It is a sombre time, but if we work together as one people, we will overcome this challenge, as our pioneers have done before."