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Singapore to require all foreign inbound travellers from high-risk countries to take pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test

Singapore to require all foreign inbound travellers from high-risk countries to take pre-departure COVID-19 PCR test

Passengers wearing face masks at Singapore's Changi Airport on Mar 16, 2020. (File photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Travellers who are not Singaporeans or permanent residents entering Singapore from high-risk countries will need to take a COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test within 72 hours before their departure.

This is part of the country’s plans to reduce the risk of imported cases from high-risk countries and regions, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said in a statement on Tuesday (Nov 10). 

The pre-departure requirement will begin on Nov 18. 

These travellers will still be required to serve their stay-home notice upon arrival in Singapore and will be tested at the end of their stay-home notice, MOH said.

Previously, the pre-departure PCR testing only applied to people with recent travel history to India, Indonesia and the Philippines. They are required to present a valid negative PCR test to enter or transit through Singapore.

READ: Companies, individuals who need COVID-19 PCR tests can get such services from approved providers from Dec 1

However, travellers from low-risk territories are exempted from this requirement. These include individuals from: Brunei, New Zealand, Vietnam, Australia, Mainland China, Macao, Malaysia (except Sabah), Taiwan and those from Hong Kong who are not under the Singapore-Hong Kong Air Travel Bubble. 

MOH said Singapore’s border measures are evolving alongside the latest global situation.

If the conditions in a country or region are getting worse, more stringent measures will be put in place to limit the risk of importation and prevent community transmission.

And if circumstances in the country or region improve, border controls will be relaxed, the ministry said.

READ: Commentary - The systematic testing Singapore needs to ditch circuit breakers for good

At Tuesday's COVID-19 multi-ministry task force press conference, Minister for Education Lawrence Wong was asked why there were no travel arrangements with Taiwan despite its low COVID-19 incidence rates.

Mr Wong said there was “no doubt” that Taiwan was considered a lower risk jurisdiction based on Singapore’s classification.

READ: Singapore may enter Phase 3 before end of the year if ‘all the stars are aligned’: Lawrence Wong

Addressing the need for a seven-day stay-home notice for travellers entering Singapore from Taiwan, Mr Wong said Singapore will continue to monitor the situation. 

"And at some point, if indeed Taiwan continues to remain a low-risk, safe jurisdiction then we may very well put it on the same footing as some of the other places like New Zealand, Vietnam ... as long as you have a test on arrival, then there is no need for SHN," he said.

"That may happen along the way, as I said, it's a dynamic process, and we continue to update."

A travel bubble is a “different” matter because it is a bilateral arrangement, said Mr Wong. 

“A travel bubble means we have to discuss and the other side has to agree. We do not have travel bubbles with many; not all the places which are lower-risk, because that requires bilateral negotiations and agreement on both sides mutually,” he said. 

"We continue to discuss these possibilities with all these countries. And to the extent that mutual understanding and agreement can be reached, then we can announce a travel bubble when that happens."

Watch the full press conference: 

Source: CNA/rp(rw)

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