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Singapore's COVID-19 measure barring visitors from India is not based on nationality: Ong Ye Kung

Singapore's COVID-19 measure barring visitors from India is not based on nationality: Ong Ye Kung

Changi Airport staff members wearing personal protective equipment assist travellers at the check-in counters. (File photo: Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: Singapore’s move to stop the entry of visitors who have recent travel history to India is not based on nationality, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on Monday (Apr 26). 

As of 11.59pm last Friday, all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who have travelled to India in the last 14 days are not allowed to enter Singapore. This includes visitors who transit in India and those who had earlier obtained approval for entry into Singapore. 

The border measure was implemented amid a spike in COVID-19 infections in India. On Monday, the country's daily coronavirus cases set a new global record for the fifth straight day.

With 352,991 new cases, India's total caseload has crossed 17 million. Deaths rose by a record 2,812 to reach a total of 195,123.

READ: India COVID-19 cases sets new global record for 5th straight day

When asked about reports that Indian nationals are going to other countries before coming to Singapore in a bid to get past the border restrictions, Mr Ong said: “I think, as a matter of general infection control knowledge, regardless of your nationality, if you stay in a place long enough, you assume the risk profile of that place. 

“You may be from another country, but once you stay in a new country for a while, you assume a new risk profile.”

If the policy is to target Indian nationals, then “something is wrong”, added the Transport Minister, who was speaking after announcing the new launch date of the Hong Kong-Singapore air travel bubble.

“But if your policy is to target risk, then for someone from a high-risk country to move to a lower risk country, stay there for some time, and after that remain non COVID-positive, remain negative, and then come to Singapore … they have lowered the risk in that process,” added Mr Ong.

When asked if someone from India might transit for less than a day before coming to Singapore, Mr Ong stressed that such a passenger would not be allowed entry.

READ: India COVID-19 variant: What we know so far

Last Thursday, co-chair of the multi-ministry task force Lawrence Wong said that the new measures were a “temporary freeze” on arrivals from India, and that it will give Singapore time to monitor the situation there and better understand the “new variants that are there and the risk that they pose to us”.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said the measures are “necessary” because if there is an influx of cases, they may transmit to Singapore’s dormitories or community, and the country might “end up with a major outbreak again”.

Adding that Singapore is also concerned with healthcare capacity, Mr Gan said: “We want to do what we can to minimise the risk of the next cluster and the next wave, so that we have sufficient capacity of our healthcare facilities to be able to respond should that eventuality happen.” 

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Source: CNA/mi(gs)


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