The ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday should help to reassure Singaporeans that the Government is on top of an evolving situation in which international concern is focused on the upsurge in coronavirus pandemic cases in China. There is no need to restrict the entry of travellers from that country, but Singapore must continue to monitor developments, with a particular eye on the possible emergence of Covid-19 variants of concern anywhere in the world.
Certainly, recent developments in China have worrying implications for global health. International officials and health experts are worried that a nation of 1.4 billion people is undervaccinated and may not possess the healthcare resources necessary to treat a wave of illness expected to kill more than a million people through 2023. In that context, China’s startling reversal recently of its strict zero-Covid policy and the presence of what has been called its “vaccine nationalism” – its refusal to accept Western assistance – complicate the epidemiological scene globally. As more Chinese prepare to travel abroad following the lifting of restrictions by Beijing in the lead-up to Chinese New Year in January, the question is what Singapore should do. Should it follow those countries that have imposed curbs on the entry of travellers from China, or should it adhere to its existing policy on the entry of all travellers?