Singapore will take a “cautious approach” in increasing airline seat capacity as travel from China is restored, while holding back from joining others that have imposed tighter travel restrictions on visitors from the country.
China’s large Covid infection wave is of particular concern amid a global increase in cases, the island’s health ministry said in a statement Friday. The main worries are the possible emergence of new and more dangerous variants, and that infected travellers could add a significant burden to its hospitals, it said.
So far, “the strains circulating in China are known ones, and no new variants with greater transmissibility or severity than previously identified subvariants have been detected,” the ministry said. Singapore has been working with international partners to monitor new variants circulating globally, it said.
Beijing’s recent move to scrap its strict zero-Covid policies has sparked a surge in infections in China, and worries elsewhere about new variants. Countries from the US to Italy and Japan are introducing Covid tests for all travellers from China.
Singapore said its airport sees between 700-1,000 arrivals from China daily, or about 1%-1.5% of the total by air a day, mostly comprising of residents or long-term pass holders. About 40 to 80 of the arrivals are detected to be positive with Covid-19 on a weekly basis, it said.
“As air travel with China is progressively restored, we will take a cautious approach towards increasing seat capacity, taking into account the overall public health assessment,” the government said.
Singapore still requires travellers who aren’t fully vaccinated against Covid-19 to take pre-departure tests, and for short-term visitors who haven’t completed the regime to have sufficient travel insurance.
“We are watching the situation closely,” it said. “We stand ready to reinstate border health measures for selected countries if warranted by the public health situation.”