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Singaporeans advised to leave Myanmar while still possible to do so: Embassy

Singaporeans advised to leave Myanmar while still possible to do so: Embassy

Myanmar's spike in COVID-19 cases is the latest blow to a country already suffering from a February coup and a bloody crackdown on dissent that has killed over 900 people and gutted the economy. (Photo: AFP/STR)

SINGAPORE: Singaporeans currently in Myanmar should leave as soon as they can while it is still possible to do so, said the Singapore Embassy in Yangon. 

In an email dated Jul 15, the embassy cited the deteriorating security and COVID-19 situation in Myanmar, calling on Singaporeans to "leave as soon as they can by the regular relief flights".

"The Embassy cannot guarantee that the relief flights will continue on a regular basis, or that travellers will be able to leave the country freely on their desired dates of travel," it said.

"The Embassy may not be in a position to organise any dedicated repatriation flight for Singaporeans at a later date."

SECURITY SITUATION

In its summary of the security situation in Myanmar, the embassy said that martial law had been declared on Mar 15 in six townships in Yangon Region: Hlaing Thayar, Shwepyithar, North Dagon, South Dagon, Dagon Seikkan and North Okkalapa.  

READ: Myanmar activists say more than 800 killed by security forces since coup

READ: Fears for supplies in Myanmar's Chin State as exodus grows from fighting

All forms of civilian authority and law such as the police, General Administration Department and local authorities are now suspended, and the military has complete control over the area.

Given the volatility of the situation, the embassy gave the following advice for Singaporeans: 

- Keep calm and stay at home as much as possible; avoid gathering so as not to be mistaken for a demonstration.

- Comply with curfew currently in place in your region. The curfew hours currently in force in Yangon are from 10pm to 4am.  However, given the inconsistency in the enforcement of the curfew in Yangon, Singaporeans, especially those based in townships under martial law, are advised to avoid being out after 2000 hours.

- Be aware of the increasing number of explosions in Yangon and be vigilant of your surroundings when going out.  If you notice something suspicious, leave the area immediately. 

- If you have to leave your residence, bring your passport with you as you may be asked to present it at the checkpoints, and keep a family member or friend updated on your location.

- If you are stopped at a security checkpoint, comply with instructions from the security personnel and present all requested documentation.

- Note that a ban on all gatherings of more than five people in public spaces is in effect.

- Report overnight guests to the ward or village administration office as required by the Ward or Village Administration Act. Failure to comply is punishable with either a fine of 10,000 kyats (S$8.23) or seven days in prison.

- Be ready for any escalation of violence: ensure that your mobile phone is charged and keep a power bank with you. Keep at least two weeks’ worth of food and essential supplies within reach (where possible).

- Ensure that you have sufficient funds to leave the country in an emergency as credit card facilities may not be available at that time.  For those who have overstayed in Myanmar and have not settled matters with the Immigration Department, you may be required to pay an overstay fine at the airport. The rate is US$3 per day for overstay of one to 90 days and US$5 per day for overstay of over 90 days.  The authorities will only accept payment in cash and in US dollars.

- Monitor the local news closely and heed the instructions of the local authorities. The situation remains fluid and new regulations may be announced with little to no notice. 

The embassy encouraged Singaporeans to e-register with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs at https://eregister.mfa.gov.sg, so that the ministry can contact them should the need arise.

COVID-19 SITUATION

The embassy said that the COVID-19 situation in Myanmar is now "extremely serious", with highly transmissible variants spread across Myanmar and a "massive impact" upon Yangon. 

"The healthcare system has already reached its full capacity and there are very long waiting lists for admission," it said.

"There are currently no ICU or COVID-19 beds available in public and private hospitals in Yangon, as well as a severe shortage of both basic medicines and oxygen supplies in the market."

READ: Myanmar funeral services overwhelmed as COVID-19 toll mounts

The ministry advised Singaporeans with underlying health conditions to seriously consider leaving the country as soon as possible. 

"There is a high demand for medical evacuation (medevac) in the region and Singaporeans may not be able to be medevac on short notice. In addition, delays in the processing of medevac requests are possible because a significant number of staff in the relevant government departments are down with COVID-19 and have been quarantined," it said.  

A public holiday has now been declared from Jul 17 to Jul 25, which may result in further delays. 

RELIEF FLIGHTS

Singaporeans planning to take relief flights should contact airlines or their appointed agents directly for ticketing as soon as possible as the flights continue to be in high demand, said the embassy.

It said the Department of Civil Aviation Myanmar (DCA) requires all airlines to clear the full passenger lists - both Myanmar nationals and foreigners - for all flights with the Myanmar authorities at least five days before the flight. 

All Singapore-bound passengers, including Singapore citizens, should therefore purchase their tickets more than five days before the date of their flight.  

The upcoming relief flight schedule and the airlines’ contact information is as follows:

relief flight schedule

For those leaving Myanmar and wish to stay overnight at a hotel on the way to the airport, the embassy said it has made arrangements with Parkroyal Yangon and Melia Yangon for Singaporeans to be able to stay there on a short-term basis. 

This arrangement has been in effect from May 1 and is not valid for long-term or weekend leisure stays. Singaporeans who wish to stay at either hotel must make reservations as they do not accept walk-ins at this time. 

"Please note that all accommodation and other charges will be at your own expense," said the embassy.

RETURN PROCEDURES FOR SINGAPORE CITIZENS AND PERMANENT RESIDENTS 

The embassy outlined the following requirements that will apply to all travellers entering Singapore:

- All travellers entering Singapore from Myanmar (including Singapore citizens and PRs) must present a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours before the flight.  The test result memo must state the negative test result in English, date that the test was taken, traveller's name and either Date of Birth or Passport Number as stated in the passport. The facilities in Yangon that conduct pre-departure COVID-19 PCR tests can be found here. This does not apply to children below three years old. 

- The ICA arrival card is to be completed within three days prior to arrival in Singapore. The completed form must be presented to the immigration officers at arrival.

- All travellers (including Singapore citizens and PRs) will need to take a COVID-19 PCR test and Antigen Rapid Test from 11.59pm on Jul 15 upon arrival in Singapore. Travellers are advised to pre-book and pay for the test at https://safetravel.changiairport.com. This does not apply to children below three years old.

- All travellers arriving in Singapore from Myanmar will have to serve their 14-day stay-home notice at a dedicated facility arranged by the relevant authorities in Singapore and will have to bear the cost of their stay and the COVID-19 tests.  Individuals who have special requests for their stay-home notice stay can contact ICA directly or call the SafeTravel Helpline at +65 6812 5555. For more information on the SHN, please refer to this link.  Travellers can also refer to the FAQ on the SHN, or use this self-help form.

From 11.59pm on Jul 27, travellers aged three and above are required present a valid negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure to Singapore, and will be subjected to all tests required of travellers under the prevailing border measures.

The embassy advised travellers to arrive at the airport early on the date of the flight to minimise delays from possible roadblocks and ensure they have sufficient time to clear the necessary security and immigration procedures.

Singaporeans or permanent residents who have foreign dependents can apply for their foreign dependents to enter Singapore through this website

However, in view of the tightening of Singapore’s border measures to manage the risk of COVID-19 importation and protect public health, new entry approvals have been reduced or halted until further notice for travellers with travel history to higher-risk countries/regions, which includes Myanmar, said the embassy.

All Singaporeans choosing to remain in Myanmar are strongly advised to practice strict physical distancing, wear a mask at all times, avoid gatherings whether indoors or outdoors, limit travel outside their residences, and frequently wash or disinfect their hands.  

Further restrictions may be imposed in the coming weeks, and Singaporeans are advised to plan accordingly.  

"Please comply strictly with all laws and regulations issued by Myanmar government authorities at all levels," said the embassy.

It added that Singaporeans may monitor Myanmar's Ministry of Health and Sport website for information on the daily number of COVID-19 cases.

It also listed the townships currently under stay at home measures: 

townships currently under “Stay at Home” measures

Residents under stay at home measures in Yangon are to adhere to the following regulations, the embassy said:

- All residents are to stay at home, except for those in identified essential services: civil servants, banking and financial services, fuel stations, food processing facilities, pharmaceutical manufacturing and distribution, clean water distribution, factories producing daily hygiene products, post and telecommunication services, international cargo and freight, airlines operating relief and cargo flights, and custom offices and their agents.

- Employees from all other organisations are required to work from home

- Staff of raw material and cut-make-pack (CMP) factories are to follow the guidelines set by their respective management.

- Only one person per household is allowed to leave the house to buy essential supplies.

- Only two people per household are allowed to leave the house to visit a clinic or hospital.

- Face masks must be worn when leaving the house.

- Apart from the driver, there should not be more than one person in a vehicle (when buying essential supplies), and more than two persons in a vehicle (when visiting the clinic or hospital).

- Only vehicles ferrying passengers to/from the workplace and permitted vehicles can pass through other townships.

- Permission from the ward administrator is required for any exception to the measures above.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic and its developments

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Source: CNA/ic(ac)

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