Photo credit: MCI
In response to the growing number of infections, all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history (including transit) to India within the last 14 days will not be allowed entry into Singapore, or transit through Singapore.
The restrictions will also apply to all those who have obtained prior approval for entry into Singapore, and will take effect on 11.59pm on April 23.
This was announced at a press conference of the Multi Ministerial Task Force on April 22.
This is in addition to the restrictions announced on April 20, where it was said Singapore will also reduce entry approvals for non-Singapore citizens or permanent residents due to the worsening situation in India and the emergence of new virus variants.
Furthermore, travellers from India who have yet to complete their 14-day SHN by April 22, 11.59 pm, will need to complete their additional 7-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) at dedicated SHN facilities, instead of their place of residence as announced before.
All newly arrived migrant workers from higher-risk countries and regions, including those with a positive serology result, will now also have to undergo SHN at a dedicated facility before being onboarded at the Migrant Workers Onboarding Centre (MWOC) for an additional testing regime.
Those with a serology positive result will also be enrolled onto 14-day Rostered Routine Testing after they have completed the SHN and stay at MWOC.
On Thursday, India reported a record one-day jump with more than 300,000 new Covid-19 infections, as a deadlier second wave showing no signs of abating.
India, which has the world’s second-largest outbreak, reported 314,835 new cases on April 22, pushing the total tally to almost 16 million cases. In contrast, the US, the worst-hit country, suffered its peak one-day surge of 314,312 cases on Dec 21.
At the press conference, Education Minister Lawrence Wong highlighted that the measures were because the Covid-19 situation in India has continued to worsen, but there was no evidence that the recent dormitory cases were linked to India or the new strain in India.
However, he also cautioned that “the majority of new arrivals from India work in the construction marine and process (CMP) sectors, and they live in the dormitories. Even if they were to serve out the Stay Home Notice, we know that that is never 100% foolproof and leaks can still happen.”
“And if such a leak were to happen amongst new Indian arrivals working in these sectors, then a new strain may get leaked into the dormitory, and worse, even recovered or vaccinated workers may get infected. And then we may see new clusters, emerging again in our dormitories,” Wong added.
Wong also added that the move will impact the CMP sectors, and specifically for the construction sector, he expects further delays in construction projects due to the added restrictions on workers.
Immunity to Covid-19 may decrease after one year
Separately, the Health Ministry has also said in its release that the latest scientific evidence from recovered persons in Singapore nearing one year from the date of infection suggests a possible gradual decrease in antibody levels in recovered persons.
“Immunity in recovered persons can wane, and caution is required around the infection risks in recovered persons,” MOH pointed out.
Director of Medical Services Kenneth Mak said that the ministry has observed people who have recovered from Covid-19, and a majority do develop an immune response that protects them for a “significant period of time.”
“However, there have been studies that show that for some individuals, the antibody levels that are present in the body do wane over time,” he highlights.
As such, Singapore will also reinstate the 14-day Rostered Routine Testing for dormitory dwelling workers and workers in the CMP sectors with effect from April 29, as well as those who have crossed 270 days (9 months) from the date of Covid-19 infection.
This is after 17 recovered workers in Westlite Woodlands Dormitory were tested positive for Covid-19, following a 35 year-old migrant worker living in the dormitory who tested positive for Covid-19 after receiving both vaccine shots and classified as a reinfection case.
MOH said these cases were immediately isolated and conveyed to NCID, and the ministry is investigating for possible re-infection, or if they are persistent shedders from their earlier infection, and said that the number of actual re-infection cases will be announced when ready.
Second Minister for Manpower Tan See Leng revealed, “These people didn't have symptoms, we actually proactively and preemptively went to test them, So we're waiting for the more refined investigations to come up from NCID and from the national labs before we can comment further.”