Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Stay at home as much as you can: Singapore announces strictest measures yet to fight COVID-19

Bars, cinemas and all other entertainment outlets to shut from 26 March, 2359 hours until 30 April 2020

Tuition centres, all religious services to be suspended

Gatherings outside of work, school limited to 10 persons

Singapore residents who continue to travel abroad from 27 March 2020 will pay full hospital charges if warded for coronavirus

All travellers arriving in Singapore must submit health declaration from 27 March 2020, 0900 hours

Sweeping new measures in Singapore to check virus spread
By Chang Ai-Lien, Science and Health Editor and Charmaine Ng, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2020

Bars, cinemas and all other entertainment outlets will be closed from 11.59pm, 26 March until April 30 at least, as Singapore's fight against COVID-19 enters a new phase amid a wave of imported cases.

The multi-ministry task force set up to combat the outbreak announced sweeping changes to limit gatherings, protect the vulnerable and strongly discourage travel.

So, tuition and enrichment classes at centres as well as all religious services will be suspended.

People will have to limit gatherings outside of work and school to 10 persons or fewer, while malls, museums and restaurants must reduce crowd density to stay open.

In addition, with about 1,000 residents and long-term pass holders here still travelling abroad daily despite advice not to do so, those who leave the country from Friday will have to pay unsubsidised rates should they be hospitalised for COVID-19 treatment.

Singaporeans must take the measures very seriously, said task force co-chairman and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong. The measures are pre-emptive, but come at a time of real risks, he stressed.

"All over the world, millions of people are living in a different reality. Workplaces are closed, shops are empty, roads are empty, everyone is asked to stay home," he said.

Singapore had not reached this point, but the risk of local transmission will rise with more imported cases, he said. "So, we have to take seriously the measures to protect our family members and the people around us."

He called for everyone to stay at home as much as possible.

"Stay at home as much as you can, and go out if you need to work, go to school, go out for essential tasks - but otherwise stay at home, reduce your social gatherings and all other activities for the next one month," he said.

The measures come as 49 new COVID-19 cases were reported yesterday, 24 March, including 32 imported cases, bringing the total of people found to have the virus here to 558.

From 11.59pm, 25 March, all Singapore residents returning from Britain and the United States - two at-risk places from where people are flooding back, will have to stay in hotels to serve their 14-day stay-home notice.

Those who breach the rules face fines of up to $10,000 or jail for up to six months, or both.

Health Minister and task force co-chairman Gan Kim Yong stressed that cases all over the world are still rising and have not peaked yet, so the number of cases here may grow.

"We really want Singaporeans to understand that we are serious about implementing and enforcing these measures. We encourage them to work with us, and we hope we do not have to resort to enforcement actions."

However, if required, the sweeping measures may be escalated to include suspension of schools and workplaces.

Mr Wong warned: "Closure of schools, closure of workplaces, other than essential activities - that is the most drastic step. That is what I suppose people call a 'lockdown'. And that set of drastic measures may well be necessary."

Noting that schools have already stopped co-curricular and enrichment activities, the Health Ministry's director of medical services Kenneth Mak noted that these are calibrated moves.

"But as the risk changes over time, and if we assess that the risk to students changes, then there may be a need for adjustment of that particular posture."

Tomorrow, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat will present a further set of measures aimed at preserving jobs and livelihoods, helping viable companies stay afloat and supporting households amid the battering Singapore and the world are facing. More support will be given to the most severely impacted sectors, he said in a Facebook post last night.

Singapore residents who still go abroad from 27 March 2020 must pay full hospital charges if warded for coronavirus
By Goh Yan Han, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2020

Singapore residents or long-term pass holders who leave the country despite government travel advisories will have to pay full hospital charges if admitted for coronavirus-related treatment on their return.

About 1,000 people still travel each day, risking the health of other Singaporeans and residents when they return, the Ministry of Health said yesterday.

This has led to the new ruling: Any Singapore resident or long-term pass holder who leaves from Friday in disregard of the prevailing travel advisories will be charged unsubsidised rates for inpatient stays at public hospitals if they are admitted for suspected COVID-19 and have the onset of symptoms within 14 days of returning to Singapore.

Singapore residents will also not be able to claim from MediShield Life or Integrated Shield Plans for such treatment at public and private hospitals.

On top of that, work-pass holders or their dependants who leave Singapore from Friday will be deprioritised for entry approval and could see significant delays before they are allowed to return if they travel abroad and return infected.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, co-chairmen of a government task force to fight the coronavirus, told a media briefing yesterday that all Singaporeans and residents must take the measures seriously.

The task force said last Wednesday that Singaporeans should defer all travel, a more stringent requirement than the earlier advisory to defer non-essential travel.

Restrictions have also been imposed on inbound travel.

Since last Friday, all Singaporeans, permanent residents, long-term pass holders and short-term visitors entering Singapore have been served with a 14-day stay-home notice, meaning they must remain in their place of residence at all times.

The Immigration and Checkpoints Authority said on Monday that from 9am on Friday, 27 March, all arrivals - including Singapore citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders - must submit an online health declaration before proceeding with immigration clearance.

Singapore residents returning from the United Kingdom and the United States to be isolated at dedicated facilities
From 25 March, 11.59pm, returnees will serve 14-day stay-home notice in specified hotels
By Clara Chong, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2020

Singapore residents returning from the United Kingdom and the United States from 11.59pm today will serve their 14-day stay-home notice in dedicated facilities instead of their own homes, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday, as it further enhanced measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus amid a wave of imported cases.

MOH said those returning from the two countries will be picked up from the airport and sent directly to one of these facilities. The ministry is working with hotel operators to house the returnees. They will each have their own room and toilet, and have all their meals provided, so that they may avoid physical contact with other individuals.

"For Singaporean parents whose children are coming back after Wednesday, there is no need to go to the airport to fetch them. We will arrange transport for them to serve out their 14-day isolation requirements," National Development Minister Lawrence Wong told reporters at a news conference yesterday.

"We do expect more Singaporeans and Singapore residents to come home from these countries, especially given the lockdown in these countries," Mr Wong added. "So far, none has gone on to infect their family members. But family members are still worried; there is always a risk that infection can happen to someone in close proximity."

Those who have already returned from the US and UK and are currently serving their stay-home notice in their homes may also apply to stay in these dedicated facilities.

MOH noted that those coming in from the UK and US account for the largest share of imported cases. About 1,200 people a day have been returning from these two countries. The Government had earlier banned all short-term visitors from entering or transiting through Singapore.

Singapore residents who return with symptoms must undergo a swab test at the checkpoint.

On whether returnees should wait around the facility for the test results or return home, MOH director of medical services Kenneth Mak said: "We advise people who have been swab-tested to go home - and while they are waiting for the test results, to isolate themselves and not go into crowded areas and engage in a lot of travel outside their home.

"We think it is more prudent... When we notify them of the results, we will inform them whether we need them to be recalled. We will provide them with the ambulance that brings them into the hospital for further treatment."

In a separate announcement, the Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF) announced it would be placing pupils living in the same household as someone returning from overseas on a 14-day leave of absence (LOA).

This applies to pre-school and primary school pupils who are in the same household as anyone who returns to Singapore from 11.59pm today, or anyone who returned from an Asean country, the UK or the US on or after March 14. The pupil's LOA will start from the day the person in the household returned here.

The ministries said these measures will be implemented to protect younger school-going children. The new measures are on top of the 14-day LOA issued to students and staff of schools, pre-schools and student care centres if they returned from overseas on or after March 14.

To accommodate these exceptional circumstances, MOE and MSF encouraged employers to provide flexible work arrangements for employees.

New community isolation facility for COVID-19 patients who are well but test positive for virus
By Clara Chong, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2020

Patients who are well enough to not require hospitalisation but still test positive for the coronavirus will be moved to a new isolation facility to ensure that hospitals can cope with a possible surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced yesterday that it has set up a community isolation facility at D'Resort NTUC in Pasir Ris that can accommodate 500 people.

Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said: "As the number of COVID-19 cases rises across the world, we expect the number of cases in Singapore to increase. Therefore, we are taking steps to increase our healthcare capacity.

"Over the last few days, we have been sending patients to some private hospitals. Today, we have operationalised a community isolation facility."

Currently, patients who are well enough to be discharged from medical care but still test positive for the coronavirus are isolated in hospitals.

MOH said this is not an efficient use of hospital resources as the patients do not require significant medical care.

The community isolation facility is modelled after existing government quarantine facilities, said MOH director of medical services Kenneth Mak.

He added that while patients in the isolation facility do not require medical care, they will need to be tested for the virus.

"This test would be done once every few days. There is a team, therefore, that goes through the isolation facility to perform these swab tests and bring the swabs back."

The cost of isolation in the community isolation facility will be borne by the Government.

All 70 Singapore mosques to be closed until further notice given higher risk of community spread
By Hariz Baharudin, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2020

The closure of all 70 mosques here, initially planned to last two weeks, will be extended until further notice in order to prevent any further spread of the coronavirus, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) announced yesterday.

Singapore's highest Islamic authority, Mufti Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, said at a news conference that when mosque closures were first announced on March 12, Muis had said that mosques would be reopened when it was responsible and safe to do so.

"At that time, there were less than 200 cases in Singapore. But the number now stands, as of yesterday, at 509 cases with two deaths," Dr Nazirudin said yesterday. "The situation clearly has not improved, but has instead worsened."

Later yesterday, 24 March, it was reported that there were 49 new cases, bringing the total to 558.

As the risk to the community remains high, the Fatwa Committee has recommended the continued closure of mosques until further notice, Muis said. Dr Nazirudin heads the committee, which issues religious rulings for Muslims here and was guided in its decision by the principle of avoiding harm, as well as closing all doors that lead to danger.

The closures mean that no congregational prayers, including Friday prayers, can be performed at mosques. The council said that under Muslim law, the possibility of becoming ill and fear for one's safety are valid reasons not to hold or attend such prayers.

Many Muslims believe Friday prayers should not be missed for three weeks in a row, and Muis said this is not an issue, as they are not obligatory given the situation. "In particular, the Fatwa Committee also noted that under these circumstances, with the risk of infection still on the rise, it is the responsibility of every Muslim to help keep everyone safe," added Muis.

Muis had initially announced on March 12 the closure of all mosques for five days for cleaning, after several congregants tested positive for the coronavirus after attending a mass religious gathering in Kuala Lumpur.

On March 16, Muis announced that this would be extended by another nine days to complete one incubation period of the coronavirus.

But even as mosques here are closed indefinitely, a move first announced on Sunday to open small spaces for prayer in the afternoons to cater to congregants who need them remains in place. Nineteen mosques will be opened to provide a small space for people to perform their two afternoon prayers individually. These spaces will be open only between 1.15pm and 6pm.

Muis said that the move comes after it had received feedback from congregants like taxi drivers that they face problems finding a place to pray during the day.

Yesterday, Muis said that while mosques here remain closed, they will continue to provide essential services to the community via alternative means. Religious lectures and talks will be carried out through online platforms, and weekly religious classes will be replaced by e-learning. Low-income households can still apply for Zakat Financial Assistance at mosques.

Muis also released the results of an online survey on closing the mosques and the precautions the community was willing to take when they eventually reopen.

Out of the 32,000 respondents, almost 80 per cent said that they were ready to bring their personal prayer items, were comfortable about having their temperatures taken and willing to participate in contact tracing. Half said vulnerable groups like the elderly should avoid visiting mosques during the COVID-19 situation.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Minister-in-charge of Muslim Affairs Masagos Zulkifli thanked the community for its support and cooperation towards religious leaders in this challenging time.

Coronavirus: Closures further dampen local entertainment scene
By Anjali Raguraman, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2020

Bars, clubs, cinemas and theatres, already reeling from measures such as social distancing and capacity limits imposed just last week, were caught off guard by the announcement that all such entertainment venues will be closed from 11.59pm tomorrow until April 30.

The two largest cinema chains here, Golden Village and Shaw Theatres, said last night that they will be temporarily closing their cinemas from Friday until April 30, in line with efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Both operators said all customers holding on to tickets for affected screenings will be refunded.

Those who made online purchases will be automatically refunded within four weeks, while those who bought tickets via the box office or automated ticketing machines should hold on to their tickets for a refund when operations at the cinemas resume.

Theatre groups, too, have taken a hit.

The Finger Players' play, Citizen X, which was to have opened tomorrow at the Drama Centre Black Box, will now be cancelled.

Director Oliver Chong, 43, said: "We are still carrying on with our technical rehearsal with heavy hearts for video archival so that we don't waste everything."

Ivan Heng, founder and artistic director of Wild Rice, which opened its new theatre space at Funan Mall last August, was resigned when he spoke to The Straits Times from hospital, where he is recovering from knee surgery.

Wild Rice had been struggling with increasingly tough social distancing measures through its opening season, but the new theatre closure rule has scuppered plans for two upcoming productions.

"This is it. We kept the lights on as long as we could," said Heng, 56.

The lights will go out at clubs too for the time being.

Singapore's largest nightclub, Marquee Singapore, which is at Marina Bay Sands and can hold a few thousand people, had shut its doors from March 13.

Zouk in Clarke Quay has remained open all this while, but said it will "provide full cooperation to support measures that the Government has decided".

Its chief executive officer Andrew Li, 37, added that the club has, for the past few weeks, proactively implemented safety measures such as stepping up sanitisation, giving out face masks, temperature screening and travel history checks.

He said the group, which employs more than 200 employees, will do its best to ensure that its workers can "take care of their livelihoods in these uncertain times".

But several bars that The Straits Times approached were unsure if the new rules on closures would affect them as they operate under restaurant and not bar licences.

Meanwhile, cinema-and club-goers expressed disappointment over the closures.

Tech recruiter and restaurant owner Ibrahim Khater, 29, who visits clubs or bars twice or thrice a week, said "the closures will have a major impact on my social life, and it is quite difficult to imagine not being in a lively atmosphere for a month".

Pre-school teacher Claire Chan, 29, said the cinema closures are not surprising, considering the spike in COVID-19 cases.

"However, it does limit my weekend plans, and I am slightly disappointed," she said.

But another 29-year-old pre-school teacher, who wanted to be known only as Ziyu, supported the move to close entertainment venues. "The longer this drags on, the more psychologically challenging it is for all of us," she said.

Additional reporting by John Lui, Ong Sor Fern and Chloe Kok

New MOM measures to help companies cope with pandemic
By Jean Iau, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2020

New measures to help businesses cope with the coronavirus pandemic have been rolled out by the Ministry of Manpower (MOM).

In a statement yesterday, MOM said that with immediate effect, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will get a three-month extension for paying the levy for the foreign workers they hire. This is expected to give these companies more flexibility with managing their cash flow.

Another measure announced is a waiver of up to 90 days on levies for foreign workers on overseas leave. This also takes effect immediately.

The last measure is a refund on the "man-year entitlement" for foreign workers in construction companies.

Under the man-year entitlement framework, these firms can pay lower levies for a certain number of foreign workers, depending on the project. The lower levies are paid monthly for a year.

With the refund scheme, the lower levy for a foreign worker is not forfeited if the worker leaves, or is unable to work. Instead, the unused lower levy benefit can be used for another worker.

Companies can apply to the Building and Construction Authority for the refund scheme from April 1 for a period of six months.

MOM also urged companies with extra manpower to give priority to locals in keeping their jobs. These firms should also allow their foreign workers to be transferred to other firms facing a manpower shortage.

For the extension of the SME foreign worker levy payment, about 60,000 companies can benefit from this relief measure, and it will apply to levies incurred this year.

SMEs will have up to five months to pay for the foreign worker levy from the month it is incurred. Currently, the foreign worker levy incurred is due by the 14th of the following month.

Employers who do not make the payment on time will have their new and renewal work pass applications rejected. If they cannot make payment on time for two consecutive months, all existing work passes under that employer will be revoked.

MOM urged companies that benefit from the extension to keep their existing workers and not employ new foreign workers. The ministry will not allow new applications of work passes from these firms, although it will accept renewals.

The late payment penalty of 2 per cent a month will still apply to levy payments which are extended.

For the 90-day levy waiver for foreign workers on overseas leave, this was extended due to tighter border restrictions and difficulties workers may face when returning to Singapore.

It applies to firms that send their foreign workers home from now until the end of this year.

The current levy waiver for up to 60 days applies to foreign workers who go on overseas home leave for at least seven consecutive days.

More information on all the measures is available on the MOM website.

Young adults now make up largest group of coronavirus patients in Singapore
Most of these patients aged between 20 and 29 were infected overseas, primarily in UK
By Clara Chong, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2020

The number of coronavirus patients aged between 20 and 29 has overtaken that of patients aged 60 and above to become the largest infected group, with most young adults having caught the bug overseas, primarily in Britain.

Of the 558 COVID-19 patients, 141 are between 20 and 29 years old, compared with 111 patients who are 60 and above. Out of these 141 cases of young adults, 78 per cent, or 111 cases, were imported.

Around three in five, or 68 of the 111 imported cases of young adults, had a travel history to the United Kingdom, The Straits Times (ST) has found, based on government figures and profiles of the patients.

Professor Teo Yik Ying, dean of National University of Singapore's (NUS) Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, told ST: "The number of young people being infected reflects the demographics of people returning to Singapore as a result of the global situation, where a number of countries in Europe and North America are seeing widespread community transmission.

"A large segment of the people coming into Singapore in the past week are locals who have been overseas for studies, work placements or internships. They are predominantly people in their 20s and 30s."

Though past reports have suggested the elderly are more likely to be infected, young people are not immune to the virus, said Prof Teo.

He said: "I must emphasise that COVID-19 is not a disease of the elderly. Children, as well as healthy adults, are also susceptible to it."

While the elderly and those with pre-existing health issues are more likely to progress to more severe infections and experience higher mortality rates, he said, "in terms of infection, both groups are equally at risk".

Visiting professor Annelies Wilder-Smith of Nanyang Technological University's Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine, said: "Older people, even if they spend less time in the community, will be infected by the younger people who interact with the older people at home.

"For this reason, some countries are trying different strategies to protect this most vulnerable group."

On the perception that younger adults might be less risk averse, Associate Professor Hsu Li Yang, infectious diseases programme leader at the Saw Swee Hock School of Public Health, said: "It is likely that a small fraction of young people here will defy stay-home notices... and continue to go out. This is possibly because they do not appreciate the risk or feel that they are not at risk, or else are unable to tolerate 'cabin fever' being cooped up in their rooms for two weeks.

"This is why the penalties are set relatively high as a deterrence."

Those who breach the stay-home notice will face fines of up to $10,000 or jail of up to six months, or both, the Ministry of Health said yesterday.

National Development Minister Lawrence Wong said on Tuesday: "We have always been doing enforcement through the use of remote monitoring, and spot checks, but we are putting in place enhanced enforcement.

"Whoever flouts stay-home requirements and are caught - we will not hesitate to prosecute, and to apply these penalties."

Around 20 per cent of cases here involve patients aged 60 and above.

Prof Teo said: "It is a reflection of the way the disease is spreading in Singapore - we have had a few large clusters like the Safra Jurong cluster which involved people in that age group."

Those younger than 20 make up just a small fraction - 17 out of 558 confirmed cases.

Infectious disease expert Leong Hoe Nam said: "It begs the question of the manner in which the disease was acquired - if it was at work or in the community and less so in schools. There is also a possibility of many asymptomatic individuals."

He added: "More research into this will be required."

Parents question tuition suspension; centres go online
Some say move unnecessary because schools remain open; others welcome safety measure
By Dominic Low and Jolene Ang, The Straits Times, 25 Mar 2020

Tuition centres are ready to go online, even as parents questioned the need for them to close.

Under new measures to stem the spread of the coronavirus, all centre-based tuition and enrichment classes will be suspended from Friday to reduce the intermingling of students from different schools.

Many parents The Straits Times spoke to yesterday said they did not think it was necessary to suspend tuition classes because schools have not been closed.

Housewife Joanna Tan, 40, whose Primary 5 son is enrolled in a maths tuition class at Learning Edge Education Centre, said: "I feel the decision to keep schools open and close tuition centres is contradictory. Parents and students mingle a lot more at schools."

"Most tuition centres are also taking precautions, and tuition classes are a lot smaller and more casual, which makes it easier for teachers to manage. So I actually feel safer taking my son to tuition than to school," she added.

Madam Kristine Khoo, 41, who runs a handicraft business, is worried that the suspension would affect her twin daughters, who are sitting the Primary School Leaving Examination this year.

The twins attend tuition lessons for English, maths and science at a centre in Marine Parade.

"The centre already takes a lot of precautions. They keep telling us to inform them if the kids are not well or if the family has gone on holiday, and they would do the necessary make-up lessons," said Madam Khoo.

"They also take the kids' temperatures and make sure they are well."

She added that tuition lessons are also shorter than a school day as each session lasts only about two hours. "They might as well lock down schools too," she said.

Meanwhile, tuition and enrichment centres contacted by ST said they would abide by the rules.

Ms Calla Chiang, 39, director of the Science Studios Learning Centre, said the centre will be converting its lessons to home-based online learning.

It has already put in place an online learning system, which includes video recording of lessons.

These videos will be made available on the centre's existing online learning platform, Science Studios Online, she said.

She added: "We have to try our best to make sure that students continue to learn well and even enjoy the process."

Speech Academy Asia, which provides communication training classes, will be launching webinar lessons, said its co-founder Kelvin Tan, 41.

Mr Tan added that the centre will incorporate gaming elements for online learning, such as asking students to utilise knowledge from the webinar lessons to solve tasks.

Mr Lim Weiyi, 39, co-founder of tuition centre Study Room, said the centre will be arranging for one-hour online lectures.

Students and their parents will then have a 10-minute one-to-one engagement with tutors via video conferencing.

This is to ensure that the engagement and interaction between students and tutors remains, he said.

Some parents welcomed the new measures.

Ms Angeline Goh said she had pulled her Primary 1 son out of his aikido class last month. He also attends creative writing enrichment lessons.

"The percentage of risk reduces with the suspension of such classes", added the 41-year-old, who works in customer service.

Coronavirus: All travellers arriving in Singapore must submit online health declaration from Friday, 27 March 2020, 0900 hours
The Straits Times, 24 Mar 2020

All travellers arriving in Singapore - including citizens, permanent residents and long-term pass holders - must submit an online health declaration before they can be cleared by the immigration authority.

To take effect on Friday at 9am, the forms can be submitted by travellers up to three days before they arrive.

This new entry requirement is an additional precaution to mitigate the risk of importing COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) said yesterday.

The SG Arrival Card electronic service will be available on the ICA website or on a free mobile app.

It is subject to further review based on the global COVID-19 situation, said ICA.

The data from the declarations will be used by the Ministry of Health (MOH) for contact tracing purposes if any traveller becomes a suspected or confirmed coronavirus case. It will also be in the traveller's medical history for reference at local healthcare institutions where the traveller may be treated.

ICA's announcement comes after MOH said on Sunday that all short-term visitors from anywhere in the world will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore from 11.59pm yesterday.

The Ministry of Manpower will allow only the entry or return of work-pass holders, including their dependants, who are in essential services such as healthcare and transport.

ICA said yesterday that those who do not submit their electronic health declarations before arriving here must do so before they can proceed to immigration clearance, which will delay their clearance.

Information to be provided in the forms include the traveller's health and recent travel information, as well as personal and contact details.

Travellers who experience any changes to their health or travel history must resubmit the form before arrival.

Those who provide false declarations can be prosecuted under the Infectious Diseases Act.

Anyone convicted of a first offence under the Act can be fined up to $10,000 and jailed for up to six months. For subsequent offences, this could go up to a maximum fine of $20,000 and up to a year in jail.

Previously, the authorities said travellers showing signs of infection may have to undergo a COVID-19 swab test at the checkpoints, regardless of travel history. If they test positive, they will be taken to a hospital for further checks.

All arrivals must now also comply with a 14-day stay-home notice, regardless of whether they have symptoms.

The health declaration function on the SG Arrival Card was developed by ICA, in consultation with MOH.

The e-service was rolled out for testing in August last year to allow short-term visitors to submit information about their visit here digitally before they arrived.

The online form will replace paper-based disembarkation and embarkation cards from Friday, ICA said.

This means that when entry into Singapore for short-term visitors resumes in future, travellers will fill in their arrival and departure information through the paperless SG Arrival Card e-service.

As of last month, ICA had cleared more than 560,000 electronic SG Arrival Card records from short-term visitors.

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