Wuhan virus: MOM to reject all new work pass applications for foreign workers from Hubei

A staff member screens the body temperatures of arriving passengers at Changi Airport in Singapore on Jan 22, 2020. PHOTO: CHANGI AIRPORT

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) will reject all new work pass applications for foreign workers from the Chinese province of Hubei with immediate effect, until further notice.

The ministry said in a statement on Tuesday (Jan 28) that this was one of several measures it is implementing on all foreign workers from Hubei to help Singapore contain the spread of the Wuhan virus.

MOM said that it has rejected more than 30 new work pass applications as of Tuesday.

The renewal applications for existing work pass workers from Hubei will not be affected by the move.

These measures by MOM follow new restrictions the Government announced earlier in the day, such as no entry or transit for travellers with passports issued in Hubei or those who have travelled there recently.

As for existing work pass holders from Hubei who are currently away or have travelled to Hubei within the last 14 days, they should delay their return to Singapore.

The ministry said it expects employers to be responsible and ask these employees to defer their return until the Wuhan virus situation stabilises.

While employees with valid work passes will still be allowed to enter Singapore, they will be quarantined at home or other suitable facilities when they return to Singapore.

Employers should inform these employees that they will be quarantined if they choose to return to Singapore, said MOM.

It added that employers should closely monitor Wuhan virus-related developments and follow travel and health advisories on the Ministry of Health's (MOH) website.

Employees should cooperate with their employers, and both employers and employees should comply with advisories issued by MOH.

MOH on Tuesday afternoon said that two new cases of the Wuhan virus have been confirmed in Singapore, bringing the total number of infected people here to seven.

With three confirmed cases within the last 24 hours, the trend of infection among Chinese nationals from Hubei province, including the city of Wuhan, in Singapore is accelerating, in line with the sharp increase in global infection rates, said the ministry.

This presents a heightened risk to Singapore, although there is as yet no evidence that the virus has spread in the community.

So new restrictions were announced. For instance, there are about 2,000 recent travellers from Hubei who are in Singapore, and those assessed to be of higher risk and with a recent travel history to Hubei will be quarantined.

Quarantine orders have legal force, with severe penalties for non-compliance, including possible jail time.


MOH on Tuesday evening added that as of 12pm that day, 91 of the suspected Wuhan virus cases here have tested negative for the Wuhan coronavirus, and seven have tested positive.

Test results for the remaining 72 cases are pending.

The ministry has also identified 160 close contacts from the seven confirmed cases. Of these, 130 are still in Singapore, with 116 contacted and being quarantined or isolated, and efforts being made to contact the remaining 14 close contacts.

MOM also said that since the Wuhan virus situation has not stabilised, there may be requirements that will be imposed on work pass holders from time to time.

Employers are advised to check MOM's website, as well as the advisory for employees and employers for the latest updates.

While the ministry will publicise these requirements, MOM said it may not be possible to inform every employer directly about each new set of requirements.


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