Singapore—Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung clarified on Monday (Apr 26) that the ban on travellers from India is not meant to target any nationality, but to counter a risk to public health because of India’s recent surge in infections.
He was speaking at a media briefing for the announcement of the Singapore-Hong Kong air travel bubble.
Mr Ong further explained that if someone from India travelled to another country before coming to Singapore, this would pose a different risk level from someone who came directly from India.
The Straits Times reports that a question had arisen as to whether Indian nationals who arrive from other countries would be exempted from a travel ban on long-term pass holders and short-term visitors who travelled to India within the last two weeks.
Mr Ong explained that people who stay in an area long enough are assumed to have that area’s risk profile, no matter what nationality they have.
“If your policy is to target risk, then for someone from a high-risk country to move to a lower-risk country, stay there for some time, and after that remain non-Covid positive… and then come to Singapore, actually, you have lowered the risk tremendously in that process,” he added.
Answering another question, Mr Ong stated that Singapore mandates that anyone flying into the country must stay for 14 days outside of India.
Last week, on Apr 22 (Thursday), Minister Lawrence Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force on Covid-19, announced new measures to bar all long-term pass holders and visitors traveling from India for the sake of public health.
“The situation is very fluid, and even one case may potentially lead to a cluster of infections,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
This came only two days after the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that a longer quarantine for travelers from India was required following the worsening pandemic situation there.
The MOH said on Apr 20 that all travellers from India would be required to serve an additional seven-day stay-home notice (SHN) at their place of residence in addition to the 14-day SHN at dedicated SHN facilities imposed immediately upon arrival. Entry approvals for non-Singapore citizens or permanent residents arriving from India would also be reduced.
Mr Wong added that the SHN was not “100 per cent foolproof” and that workers who had just arrived from India could possibly infect migrant workers living in dorms and cause new clusters even as he acknowledged that the ban would have a major impact on our construction, marine and process sectors.
But the ban would also give the country the leeway to further look into the situation, he added.
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