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Singapore to restrict entry of some travellers from South Africa after reports of new COVID-19 strain

Singapore to restrict entry of some travellers from South Africa after reports of new COVID-19 strain

Visitors walk through Changi Airport Terminal 1 in Singapore on Dec 7, 2020. (File photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: People with a travel history to South Africa within the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore starting Monday (Jan 4), the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced.

The restriction will apply to long-term pass holders and short-term visitors, including those who have obtained prior approval to enter Singapore, the ministry said in a press release on Friday.

Returning Singaporeans and permanent residents will be required to take a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arriving in Singapore at the start of their 14-day stay-home notice.

"These test requirements do not apply to those who are only transiting through Singapore," said MOH.

READ: Singapore reports 30 new COVID-19 cases, including 3 in the community

The tighter border measures will be put in place given the "deteriorating situation in South Africa", said the ministry, and to prevent the spread of a potentially more contagious strain of the COVID-19 virus circulating in South Africa. 

“While the strain has been suggested to be more transmissible, there is currently insufficient evidence to determine if this strain is associated with any change in disease severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy,” it added.

“These aspects are being investigated. MOH will evaluate the data as it emerges and review our border measures accordingly.”

READ: Travellers entering Singapore from South Korea to serve stay-home notice at dedicated facilities

South Africa confirmed a record 17,710 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday, with a positivity rate of 33 per cent, Reuters reported.

The rate shows the number of positive tests against the total tested and is an indicator of how quickly the virus spreads.

South Africa's government has attributed the surge in cases to the new strain, called 501.V2.

Currently, travellers with a recent travel history to South Africa are required to serve a 14-day stay-home notice at dedicated facilities upon arrival in Singapore.

Those who are not Singapore citizens or permanent residents are also required to take a COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours before departure and present a valid COVID-19 test result as a condition of approval to enter Singapore.

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Source: CNA/ga(gs)


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