S’poreans & PRs Travelling From 2 Countries Must Self-Isolate For 7 Days, In Addition To 14-Day SHN

While the world is still grappling with Covid-19 more than 1 year since it emerged, the virus has already mutated to form reportedly more infectious strains.

2 of them have been found in the United Kingdom (UK) and South Africa, which has prompted our health authorities to take action to stop Singapore from being affected.

We’ve already banned travellers from these countries who aren’t citizens or permanent residents (PRs), but more stringent rules are coming for those allowed entry.

Basically, Singaporeans and PRs coming from the UK and South Africa will have to be isolated for 21 days instead of 14.

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All travellers entering Singapore will also have to take a mandatory Covid-19 test upon arrival, including Singaporeans and PRs.

7 days of self-isolation after 14-day SHN

In a news release on Saturday (16 Jan) night, the Ministry of Health (MOH) unveiled more stringent border measures to manage the risk of importation.

Singaporeans and PRs arriving here from the UK and South Africa are already required to serve a 14-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at a dedicated facility.

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From the start of Tuesday (19 Jan), they will need to self-isolate for 7 days at their place of residence after completing their SHN.

Long-term pass holders and short-term visitors from these 2 countries are already banned from entry or transit.

Those already on SHN must also do extra 7 days

For those who’re already serving their SHN now, the bad news for them is they’ll also need to do the additional 7 days, MOH said.

In addition, they’ll also have to undergo an additional test for Covid-19 after the extra 7 days of isolation.

Currently, returnees are already tested for Covid-19 after they complete their 14-day SHN.

Measures come after UK strain found in Singapore

These additional measures come after concerns emerged that a more contagious variant of Covid-19 was circulating in the UK and South Africa.

The UK strain, named B117, has already been found in Singapore, with the 1st infection reported in 23 Dec.

Subsequently, more infections were found, notably in staff members at the Crowne Plaza Changi Airport hotel.

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All travellers must take Covid-19 test upon arrival

MOH also said in the news release that all travellers entering Singapore must take a Covid-19 test when they arrive.

The mandatory Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test – the more invasive but more accurate one – will be applicable to Singaporeans and PRs too.

This will be implemented from the beginning of 25 Jan.

The 14-day SHN will still be needed.

Currently, those who’re not Singaporeans or PRs arriving from high-risk regions must take a test 72 hours before departure, and are also tested at the end of their SHN.

Insurance coverage needed for ATP & RGL visitors

Amid all the border restrictions for travellers, visitors from certain countries are still allowed to enter Singapore under 2 schemes: the Air Travel Pass (ATP) and Reciprocal Green Lanes (RGLs).

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However, they must pay for their medical treatment in full if they’re suspected to be infected or need to be treated for the virus in Singapore.

From the beginning of Feb 1, they’ll have an additional requirement when they apply to enter: Travel insurance that covers medical treatment and hospitalisation costs should they come down with Covid-19 in Singapore.

The minimum sum of coverage is S$30,000.

The SafeTravel website helpfully lists out some Singapore-based or overseas insurers that offer such insurance.

Fearsome new strains require extra measures

While the extra days of isolation might seem to be too much to bear, travellers who return from these high-risk countries should understand that it’s necessary to protect the community at large from the fearsome new strains.

As the authorities regularly review border measures, there’s hope that they’ll be relaxed if and when the situation improves in these countries.

Meanwhile, let’s hope that the spread of these new strains in Singapore remains minimal.

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Featured images adapted from Shashivarman Kolandaveloo @ Unsplash.