Singapore to bar UK travellers over new COVID-19 virus pressure; tighter measures for these with journey historical past to New South Wales

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SINGAPORE: Lengthy-term go holders and short-term guests with latest journey to the UK is not going to be allowed entry into Singapore from 11.59pm on Wednesday (Dec 23), mentioned the Ministry of Well being (MOH) on Tuesday.

The travellers, together with short-term guests who’ve been to the UK throughout the final 14 days, is not going to be allowed to enter or transit by way of Singapore, mentioned the ministry.

The announcement adopted the discovery of a brand new extremely infectious pressure of the novel coronavirus within the UK, which British Well being Secretary Matt Hancock mentioned was “uncontrolled”. 

“There have been latest stories of a probably extra contagious pressure of the COVID-19 virus circulating within the UK,” mentioned MOH.

“Officers throughout the UK are additionally involved about this new virus and have put in place extra stringent restrictions, together with imposing a brand new lockdown in London.

“To cut back the danger of unfold to Singapore, we’re setting up new border restrictions for travellers from UK for additional precaution,” mentioned the ministry.

The transfer by Singapore follows related measures by different locations which have already banned flights from Britain, together with Hong Kong, India, Germany and France.

The ban can even apply to travellers who had obtained prior approval for entry into Singapore.

Returning Singapore residents and everlasting residents can be required to bear a COVID-19 polymerase chain response (PCR) take a look at upon arrival in Singapore, at first of their 14-day stay-home discover.

Underneath present guidelines, all eligible travellers arriving from the UK need to serve a 14-day stay-home discover at a devoted facility. Non-residents are additionally required to provide a detrimental COVID-19 swab take a look at taken inside 72 hours earlier than their flight to Singapore.

Well being authorities within the UK mentioned the brand new pressure could also be 70 per cent extra infectious. Though a lot shouldn’t be recognized in regards to the pressure, consultants say the present vaccines ought to nonetheless be efficient in opposition to it.

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“Whereas the pressure has been advised to be extra transmissible, there’s presently inadequate proof to find out if this pressure is related to any change in illness severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy,” mentioned MOH.

“These features are being investigated by the UK authorities. The Ministry of Well being will consider the information because it emerges and evaluate our border measures accordingly.”

The World Well being Group cautioned in opposition to main alarm over the brand new extremely COVID-19 variant, saying this was a traditional a part of a pandemic’s evolution.

The brand new variant carries mutations that would imply kids are as inclined to turning into contaminated with it as adults – in contrast to earlier strains, scientists from the UK authorities’s New and Rising Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) mentioned on Monday.

TIGHTER MEASURES FOR NEW SOUTH WALES TRAVELLERS

Border measures for these with journey historical past to New South Wales in Australia throughout the previous 14 days can even be tightened from 11.59pm on Wednesday because of a resurgence within the variety of circumstances, mentioned MOH.

All travellers from Australia can be required to declare their journey historical past at airline check-in previous to their flight to Singapore.

Brief-term travellers holding an Air Journey Go and who’ve travelled to New South Wales throughout the final 14 days earlier than departure for Singapore is not going to be allowed to enter the nation.

Singapore residents, everlasting residents and long-term go holders can be topic to a seven-day stay-home discover at their place of residence, with a COVID-19 PCR take a look at earlier than the tip of the discover interval.

Presently, all travellers from Australia are allowed to bear a COVID-19 PCR take a look at upon arrival. If the take a look at is detrimental, they are going to be allowed to go about their actions in Singapore with no must serve a stay-home discover.

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New South Wales, which is Australia’s most populous state, on Tuesday reported eight new domestically acquired COVID-19 circumstances prior to now 24 hours, down from 15 yesterday.

That is its lowest one-day rise in COVID-19 circumstances in almost per week, fuelling optimism that contact tracing and social distancing have been working to deliver a harmful new outbreak in Sydney underneath management. 

Seven of the brand new circumstances have been traced to a cluster in Sydney’s northern beachside suburbs.

The cluster, which was first detected final week, has now grown to 90 circumstances as authorities battle to include the flare-up simply days earlier than Christmas. 

Responding to CNA’s queries, Singapore Airways (SIA) mentioned on Tuesday that passengers from the UK who’ve had their flights cancelled or are not capable of journey as they don’t meet the entry necessities can be coated by its world waiver coverage, and may retain the worth of their ticket as flight credit, rebook or search a refund. 

When requested in regards to the affect of the brand new measures on capability, SIA mentioned: “We stay guided by regulatory authorities and can make changes to our capability if required.” 

READ: What we all know in regards to the new pressure of coronavirus present in Britain

COVID-19 “STILL RAGING”: LAWRENCE WONG

Talking to the media after the brand new measures have been introduced, Minister for Training Lawrence Wong mentioned there had been “not very many” travellers from the UK and people who got here to Singapore weren’t uncovered to the neighborhood as a result of they have been required to serve a stay-home discover. 

“From that viewpoint, there’s already safety. However we have now assessed the scenario and we have now determined to take an extra stage of precaution,” mentioned Mr Wong, who co-chairs the COVID-19 multi-ministry job drive. 

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Mr Wong mentioned that the tightening of restrictions is a reminder that “we can’t let our guard down”.

“Sure, we’re all cheered by the arrival of the vaccines final evening in addition to the approaching entry into Part three. However let’s all remind ourselves that the virus remains to be raging in all places on this planet and we are actually having to battle a brand new and extra contagious pressure of the virus.”

The minister added that whereas the authorities stay vigilant “throughout our borders … in the neighborhood too we want each Singaporean to remain vigilant and to cooperate with the measures that we have now put in place”.

“We hope everybody will do their half in order that we will keep targeted and disciplined, all the best way to the tip till we win this struggle in opposition to COVID-19,” he mentioned.

Minister for Training Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the COVID-19 multi-ministry job drive, speaks to the media on Dec 22, 2020.

The primary cargo of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Singapore on Monday, making it the primary nation in Asia to obtain the vaccines.

The vaccine cargo comes per week earlier than Singapore enters Part three of its reopening.

In Part three, social gatherings of as much as eight individuals allowed and households can be permitted to obtain as much as eight guests at anyone time.

The authorities can even improve capability limits for venues. For malls and enormous standalone shops, the capability restrict can be elevated from 10 sq m per individual to eight sq m per individual. 

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