Covid-19: Singapore ready to step up border health measures if needed

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SINGAPORE: Singapore is closely monitoring the global Covid-19 situation and stands ready to reinstate border health measures for selected countries if warranted by the public health situation, said the republic’s Ministry of Health (MOH) on Friday.

“Caseloads have gone up in many countries due to the uptick in international travel and onset of winter in the Northern Hemisphere,” said the ministry, noting that China which is facing a large infection wave is currently of particular concern.

The ministry, in a statement said that there has been some public concern about the high level of infections in China and the latest announcements to relax their border measures on Jan 8, 2023.

Thus, MOH outlined two specific concerns with the first, “the possible emergence of new and more dangerous variants and the second is that travellers should not add significant burden to the local hospitals.

Singapore, MOH said, has been working with its international partners including GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data) which maintains a pathogen genomics database to monitor the variants circulating globally.

“We also conduct our own genomic surveillance on local and imported cases.

“So far, based on the sequencing results submitted by the Centres for Disease Control of various Chinese cities, the strains circulating in China are known ones and no new variants with greater transmissibility or severity than previously identified sub-variants have been detected,” it said.

At present, MOH said, Singapore’s airport sees between 700 and 1,000 arrivals from China daily or about 1.0 per cent to 1.5 per cent of total daily arrivals by air and the majority comprise residents and long-term pass holders returning to the republic.

On a weekly basis, the ministry said it has detected between 40 and 80 Covid-19 cases from among these travellers.

All of them exhibited mild symptoms, except one returning Singaporean who had become severely ill after recent travel to China, it said.

As air travel with China is progressively restored, MOH said it will take a cautious approach towards increasing seat capacity taking into account the overall public health assessment.

While many countries had previously fully lifted public health-related border measures, MOH reminded that Singapore did not do so and has maintained some measures.

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