Coronavirus outbreak

S'pore to bar visitors from Cheongdo, Daegu in S. Korea

Travellers arriving at Changi Airport Terminal 3 on Feb 14, 2020. Returning Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders with a travel history to Cheongdo and Daegu within the last 14 days will be issued a stay-home notice. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Singapore will bar new visitors with recent travel history to Cheongdo county and Daegu city in South Korea from 11.59pm today, as the number of coronavirus cases in these areas continues to climb.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs a multi-ministry task force tackling the coronavirus with Health Minister Gan Kim Yong, said returning Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders with recent travel history to Cheongdo and Daegu within the last 14 days will be issued stay-home notices.

This means that they will not be allowed to leave their homes for 14 days after they return to Singapore.

Yesterday, the Ministry of Manpower (MOM) also announced that from 11.59pm today, all work pass holders with recent travel history to the two regions will need to get approval before entering Singapore.

Workers who received in-principle approval for their work passes but have yet to enter Singapore, and their dependants, will also need this approval.

All affected work pass holders who return to Singapore will have to stay at their place of residence here for 14 days.

When applying for affected workers' 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 8am today.

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 it to airline staff when they check in and at the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's checkpoint when they arrive here.

Universities here have taken precautions as well, suspending exchange programmes to South Korea and advising their students there to come back.

The Ministry of Health had earlier already 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, where 10 have died, has raised its virus alert to red - the highest - as the number of cases continues to spike, with a total of 977 at last count.

At least 511 cases are linked to the Shincheonji Church of Jesus in Daegu, and 113 cases are from Daenam Hospital in Cheongdo.

With the growing number of cases in South Korea, visitors and returning travellers pose a heightened risk, said Mr Gan.

Asked how many Singaporeans are in Daegu and Cheongdo, and whether there are plans to evacuate them, director of medical services Kenneth Mak said it did not have information about the number of Singaporeans in those places.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is trying to find out and, if necessary, is prepared to provide consular assistance, he added.

Timothy Goh

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 26, 2020, with the headline S'pore to bar visitors from Cheongdo, Daegu in S. Korea. Subscribe