Coronavirus: Work pass holders who recently travelled to affected areas in South Korea need approval to enter S'pore

Pedestrians in the Dongseongro shopping district in Daegu, South Korea, on Feb 24, 2020. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE - All work pass holders who travelled to South Korea's Daegu city and Cheongdo county in the last 14 days will need to get approval before entering Singapore, as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases have spiked in these areas.

This will take effect from Wednesday (Feb 26) at 11.59pm, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) said in a statement on Tuesday.

The required approval applies to existing work pass holders, regardless of nationality, with recent travel history to the affected parts of South Korea and who are currently out of Singapore. It also applies to workers who have had their work passes approved in-principle but have yet to enter Singapore, as well as affected workers' dependants.

It is similar to the ministry's announcement on Feb 7 that all work pass holders with travel history to mainland China in the last 14 days need to get its approval before their planned entry into Singapore.

Tuesday's move comes after Singapore's Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said earlier in the day that the Republic will bar visitors from Daegu and Cheongdo, as Singapore expects to see the number of cases rise because of the risk of imported cases.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Health advised travellers to avoid non-essential travel to Daegu and Cheongdo and to take precautions when travelling to the rest of South Korea.

South Korea raised its virus alert to red - the highest - on Sunday as the number of confirmed infection cases surged, with a total of 977 cases and 10 deaths as of Tuesday evening.

On Tuesday, MOM said all affected work pass holders granted approval by the ministry to return to Singapore will have to stay at their place of residence here for 14 days. When applying for an affected worker's entry approval, employers must declare to MOM that they have arranged for suitable premises to house these returning employees during the 14-day stay-home notice period.

Employers are required to apply for entry approval for their workers online, which will be available from Wednesday 8am. Employers should inform their affected employees, including their dependants, if any, not to make travel plans to Singapore until approval has been given.

Employers must also send MOM's approval letter to the affected employees who will need to show the letter to airline staff when they check-in and at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's checkpoint when they arrive here.

Both employers and work pass holders have to ensure that the 14-day stay-home period is complied with.

Work pass holders who have to stay home for 14 days cannot leave the place they are staying. They should monitor their health closely and seek medical attention immediately if they develop a fever or symptoms of acute respiratory illness, such as a cough or shortness of breath.

These workers can make their own arrangements to get their daily necessities, such as requesting their house or dormitory mates to buy these for them, or through home delivery services.

Employers are responsible in ensuring that their work pass holders serving the 14 day stay- home notice can obtain meals and other daily essentials.

If the work pass holder is unable to make his own arrangements, his employer will have to make the necessary arrangements. If support from their employers is not forthcoming, work pass holders should report their difficulties to MOM.

The ministry said that it will not hesitate to take enforcement action against errant employers or employees who do not comply with the above requirements. This includes revoking workers' work passes and withdrawing employers' work pass privileges.

There are now 91 confirmed cases of Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, in Singapore as of Tuesday. So far, 58 patients have been discharged, while seven are in intensive care.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.