Coronavirus: 7 things to know about the latest government measures

A woman getting her temperature taken at Grace Assembly of God, on March 12, 2020. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE

SINGAPORE - With the World Health Organisation declaring Covid-19 a pandemic, and as countries across the world step up measures to contain the spread of the virus, the multi-ministry task force here announced on Friday (March 13) additional precautionary measures.

Here are seven things to know about the latest updates.

Travel: With the March school holidays approaching, the Government has announced new guidelines for travel. It is advising people to review their plans according to what experts have outlined.

1. Defer non-essential travel to countries most affected by Covid-19

The list provided by the multi-ministry task force includes eight countries, with Italy, France, Spain and Germany newly added to the list, as they have had "very high numbers of cases and very high rates of increase".

The Government previously advised Singaporeans to defer all non-essential travel to China, Iran, Japan and the Republic of Korea (South Korea), as well as to defer all travel to Hubei province, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak.

2. Exercise caution when travelling to other countries affected by Covid-19

These include countries that have already exported cases to Singapore, which are: Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, the United Kingdom, and the United States, in addition to China, France, Germany, Italy and Japan already included in the advisory to defer non-essential travel.

Other places that Singaporeans should exercise caution in are Egypt, Hong Kong, India, Israel, and Thailand.

The task force said more countries could be added to the list, adding: "The global picture is evolving, and there could be other countries that may be affected."

Social distancing: The new measures are aimed at reducing the risk of local transmissions. The Government is advising participants of large-scale events to monitor their own health and avoid attending such events if they feel unwell.

3. Ticketed events with 250 participants or more are to be deferred or cancelled

This applies to cultural, sports and entertainment events that have not yet sold tickets or committed to a venue.

For those that have already committed, organisers must demonstrate that the required precautionary measures have been put in place.

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4. Precautions for private functions and religious services

The Government said hosts should reduce the scale of events to below 250 participants where possible.

They should also spread participants out by, for example, setting seats a metre apart, and increase the ventilation of venues.

Hosts should put in place temperature and health screening measures and not hesitate to turn away people who are unwell.

The task force said contact details of attendees should also be recorded, so that contact tracing can be initiated if cases are confirmed.

Border restrictions: Given the increase in imported cases from European countries, the Government has put in place new border controls. With immediate effect, there will be no more port calls here for all cruise vessels.

5. All travellers showing symptoms when entering Singapore will have to serve 14-day stay-home notice

This will kick in immediately, regardless of the results of the mandatory swab test they take upon entering the country.

Those who test negative will continue to serve this stay-home notice in full, while those who meet the suspect case definition will be taken to hospital for follow-ups.

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6. No entry or transit for those who recently travelled to Italy, France, Spain and Germany

This will kick in at 11.59pm on Sunday (March 15) for all new visitors who have been to these four countries in the last two weeks.

Singapore citizens, permanent residents, and long-term pass holders who have recently travelled to these countries will be issued a 14-day stay-home notice.

These are in addition to similar measures already in place for China, Iran and South Korea.

Precautions for workplaces and public venues

7. Employers and owners advised to put measures in place

They have been advised to make sure employees or patrons reduce contact with one another.

Among the examples provided by the task force are that seats at dining venues could be set a metre apart, and that tourist attractions, including cinemas, could limit the number of visitors at any one time.

Employers meanwhile are further advised to stagger work hours, allow employees to commute during off-peak hour, and implement video conferencing where possible.

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