SINGAPORE, Oct 2 (Bloomberg): Singapore is shortening the quarantine period for travellers entering the city-state and further easing arrival rules for some countries in the latest move to reopen its borders.
Arriving travelers from certain regions will need to spend 10 days in isolation starting Oct. 7, instead of 14 days currently, officials told reporters in a briefing on Saturday. Those quarantine rules apply to so-called category III countries, which will include the U.S. and the U.K. from next week.
Singapore officials said their latest steps to curb the virus’s spread are having a gradual effect, even as cases rise.
The country on Friday (Oct 1) reported an increase in infections that neared 3,000. Despite having one of the highest vaccination rates in the world, the government has restored some curbs as it seeks to tamp down case numbers that have pushed deaths to a record level.
"Up to now we haven’t really experienced the full impact of the tightening measures that were introduced in the stabilization phase because it takes at least one week for any such measures to see results, but already we are seeing some signs of slowing in the rate of transmission,” Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said.
As part of the changes announced Saturday, it also plans to move several countries to category II, from where travelers only need to spend seven days in quarantine, starting Oct. 7. Those being moved to that group include France, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden. At the same time, countries including Ireland and Greece will be moved to category III.
With more vaccinations and a higher level of natural immunity, Singapore will eventually reach a point where it can re-open more confidently without experiencing a new wave of cases, Wong said.
Singapore has set up a further four facilities with a capacity of 580 beds in the past week as it seeks to ramp up its health care system for an expected caseload of 5,000 a day by mid-October. It will add a further 3,700 beds by the end of this month, while exploring a wider use of booster vaccinations.
Eight people died on Friday from Covid-19, matching Wednesday’s toll -- the highest daily fatality rate since the pandemic began. The mounting death count and worsening caseload are likely to test the government’s resolve to reopen.
Official figures show that new infections among foreign workers staying in dormitories almost doubled to 818 on Friday from a day earlier, with eight clusters reported at dormitories housing workers from overseas.
While officials said they are committed to reopening, public perceptions are strained in the city of 5.45 million, where strict social measures to combat the pathogen have been in place for well over a year. Still, evidence shows the vaccines are working.
Over the past 28 days, of the 31,057 infected individuals, 98.2% had no or mild symptoms. As of Friday, 222 cases required oxygen supplementation and 34 are in the intensive care unit.
Here are some other details and new measures from the briefing:
Singapore deliberating on recommending a booster vaccination for additional population groups, such as healthcare workers, frontline workers and persons in other vulnerable settings beyond nursing homes
.In a nod to the acute shortage of foreign labour, the Manpower Ministry also announced that it will be resuming entry approvals for migrant domestic workers and migrant working in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors from higher risk countries, as long as they are fully vaccinated before arrival. - Bloomberg