SINGAPORE: The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday (Feb 17) announced a new Stay-Home Notice (SHN) for Singapore residents and long-term pass holders returning to Singapore from mainland China.
As part of the notice requirements, such travellers will have to remain in their homes at all times during the 14-day leave period. This is stricter than the Leave of Absence (LOA) currently in place, which allows them to leave their homes briefly, for example to have their meals or buy household supplies.
The SHN will take effect from 11.59pm on Tuesday and will apply to all returnees with recent travel history to China (outside Hubei) within the last 14 days.
Singapore reported two new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing its total to 77 confirmed cases. In all, 24 patients have fully recovered and been discharged from hospital, while 53 remain in hospital.
With the implementation of the SHN, the Government will no longer be issuing LOAs to such returnees, the health ministry said.
"The vast majority on the present regime would have served out their LOAs in the coming days and we will continue to ensure their compliance in the meantime," said MOH.
The SHN will also cover returning workers from mainland China on work passes.
"For such workers, we already require employers to seek prior approval from the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) before they travel to Singapore. If employers need help, MOM will link them up with hotels or dormitory operators for their workers to serve out the SHN," said the health ministry.
MOH said the implementation of the SHN is "another precautionary measure we are taking to minimise the risk of additional imported cases of COVID-19".
Similar to those placed on LOA, these travellers are not suspected to have been in close contact with confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection, nor are they unwell or display symptoms of the virus.
"These individuals are bearing inconvenience for the benefit of the wider community," said MOH.
"We therefore urge all landlords to cooperate and to allow their tenants who are placed on SHN to serve out their full-14 day requirements," it added.
The Government said it will continue to implement surveillance and enforcement measures to ensure compliance to the SHN requirements.
There will also be support for those who need help during their SHN period, for example access to food and other daily necessities.
Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term visit pass holders can seek help from the People's Association. Students can get help from their schools or institutions, or the Ministry of Education. Those on work passes can look for their employers or MOM.
1,200 PEOPLE ON QUARANTINE: LAWRENCE WONG
Speaking to reporters on Monday, Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said that there are 1,200 people on quarantine to date.
About half of them are in Government quarantine facilities, while the rest are quarantined at home.
The SHN is similar to the Home Quarantine Order, with differences in the requirements for physical isolation.
The quarantine order is served to people who have come into close contact with individuals who have been infected, while those serving the SHN are not suspected to have had such exposure.
Those under the Home Quarantine Order "need to be separated from other people within the home", said Mr Wong.
In comparison, the SHN allows people to share a room with their family members, he added.
However, Mr Wong said those who live under one roof with family members under the SHN could practice "common sense" good hygiene when it comes to preparing food and the use of common utensils.
Responding to a question, Mr Wong also said that visits from outsiders were discouraged, but if close family members wanted to visit individuals placed under the SHN, they should take "some precautions".
The main requirement is that those served with the SHN do not leave their homes, he added.
Officers will do surprise checks, and use technology, such as video calls to monitor people served the notice, Mr Wong said.
As in the case of quarantine orders, eligible employers of those under the SHN can apply to MOM for a S$100 daily allowance. Affected self-employed citizens and PRs under the notice can apply for the S$100 daily allowance as well.
Long-term pass holders will have their passes revoked if they flout the rules of the SNH, while Singaporeans and permanent residents may face prosecution under the Infectious Diseases Act, said Mr Wong.