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COVID-19: More than 21,200 stay-home notices issued, ICA to increase manpower

COVID-19: More than 21,200 stay-home notices issued, ICA to increase manpower

In wake of the novel coronavirus COVID-19, tourists and staff can be seen wearing face mask during this period at Changi Airport (Photo: Jeremy Long)

SINGAPORE: More than 21,200 stay-home notices have been issued as of Thursday (Mar 19), and immigration authorities plan to increase manpower as the restriction is expanded to apply to all travellers entering Singapore from Saturday.

Of the stay-home notices handed out, more than 13,900 were issued between Mar 12 and Mar 19, said the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) in response to CNA's queries.

The stay-home notice was first implemented on Feb 18 for Singapore residents, long-term pass holders and foreign work pass holders returning from mainland China outside Hubei province. Those returning from Hubei are subject to a quarantine order.

READ: Singapore reports 2 deaths from COVID-19

It was later extended to travellers returning from Daegu city and Cheongdo county in South Korea, then expanded to the whole of South Korea, as well as Iran and northern Italy, then again expanded to France, Germany, Spain and the whole of Italy.

Earlier this week, the restriction was widened to all ASEAN countries (with the exception of land and sea crossings with Malaysia), Japan, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

On Wednesday, the COVID-19 multi-ministry task force said that anyone entering the country, including citizens and residents, will be issued a 14-day stay-home notice. 

"With stay-home notices being expanded to include travellers returning from all other countries/regions from Mar 20, 11.59pm, ICA is scaling up our manpower resources," it said.

COVID-19 FAQ: When will a stay-home notice be issued, and what does it mean?

Those issued stay-home notices are required to remain at home at all times for 14 days as a precautionary measure to minimise the risk of COVID-19 transmission in Singapore.

The notice is stricter than a leave of absence, which allows people to leave their homes briefly for purposes like having meals or buying household supplies, but slightly more flexible than a home quarantine order, which requires individuals to be separated from others within the same home.

To ensure compliance, ICA officers send text messages at various times throughout the day to those issued with a stay-home notice. These individuals are required to update ICA of their location within an hour, through their phone’s GPS location service via a unique web link provided in the text message.

Calls are also made, including to those who do not reply to the text messages, with individuals required to take photos of their surroundings to verify their whereabouts.

"Officers donning body-worn cameras will conduct house visits on those who did not respond to the calls or text messages. Random house visits are also conducted," said ICA.

READ: COVID-19 FAQ: When will a stay-home notice be issued, and what does it mean?

"ICA will not hesitate to take enforcement measures against those who do not comply with the requirements of the stay-home notice," it said.

Those who fail to comply with the notice face prosecution under Section 21A of the Infectious Diseases Act, and may be fined up to S$10,000, jailed up to six months, or both.

Other penalties include revoking or shortening the validity of a person's permanent residency status, long-term visit pass, dependent's pass, student's pass or work pass.

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Source: CNA/mt(cy)


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