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Coronavirus: South Korea, Israel advise citizens to defer travel to Singapore

Coronavirus: South Korea, Israel advise citizens to defer travel to Singapore

People wearing protective face masks pose for photos at Merlion Park in Singapore on Jan 28, 2020. (File photo: Reuters/Feline Lim)

SINGAPORE: South Korea and Israel have told their citizens to defer travel to Singapore due to the novel coronavirus epidemic, while Indonesia and Taiwan have recommended that precautions be taken when visiting the island.

Travel advisories have also been issued by Kuwait and Qatar for Singapore, following the raising of Singapore's DORSCON level to Orange on Friday.

The Singapore Tourism Board said in response to queries from CNA that it sees "no reason" for the travel advisories against Singapore, citing the measures taken by the Singapore Government to contain the outbreak.

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As of Monday (Feb 10), confirmed coronavirus cases have risen to 45 in Singapore, where a business meeting at Grand Hyatt hotel has been identified as a transmission cluster linked to cases in Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea and Britain.

In addition to mainland China, South Korea has "strongly advised" its citizens to refrain from travelling to Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and Taiwan, reported The Korea Times.

Israel on Sunday said travel plans should be "reconsidered" for Singapore, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Macau and Hong Kong.

The ministry also expanded its definition of a suspect patient to include people who have travelled to any of these territories within the last 14 days, and have a fever of more than 38 degrees Celsius, coughing, difficulty breathing or any other respiratory symptoms.

READ: Novel coronavirus to be called COVID-19, says WHO


Indonesia has also told citizens travelling to Singapore to be alert and take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. 

These include keeping physically and mentally fit, maintaining personal and environmental hygiene, washing hands routinely, wearing a mask, reducing outdoor activities as well as avoiding interaction in crowded public areas.

READ: No plans to cancel SAF in-camp training amid coronavirus concerns

This advisory was published as Indonesia on Saturday raised the alert level for travel to Singapore to Yellow, the second level in a four-tier system.

Taiwan on Tuesday also raised its travel warning, advising people to take precautions if going to Singapore or Thailand, and not to visit Hong Kong or Macau unless they have to.

An expert from the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday the international business meeting held at the Grand Hyatt Singapore did not appear to have spread the virus widely.

"No, I think it is way too early and much more of an exaggeration to consider the Singapore conference event a 'super-spreading event'," said Dr Mike Ryan.

Mr Keith Tan, chief executive of the Singapore Tourism Board, said that it is not right for decisions to be made based on "hearsay".

“We don’t see any reason for other countries to impose travel advisories on Singapore. We’re very confident in the measures that our Government has taken to contain the outbreak of the virus here in Singapore. And hence we see no reason for any travel advisories against Singapore,” Mr Tan told CNA.

“Making decisions based on hearsay is not right, and so we want to make sure that other governments that are considering this measure have a full understanding of the measures we’ve put in place and a full understanding of the facts," he added.

Singapore's tourism sector is expected to take a “significant hit”, with visitor arrivals estimated to fall by 25 per cent to 30 per cent this year due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, the STB said. 

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Source: CNA/reuters/jt(hm)


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