And with more lockdowns due to the coronavirus situation overseas, more Singaporeans may want to return, he said, adding that Singapore has to be prepared for more imported Covid-19 cases given the large numbers of returnees.
Wong, who co-chairs the multi-ministry task force tackling the coronavirus outbreak, was delivering a ministerial statement in parliament in which he outlined why border controls and travel restrictions were progressively tightened based on the rapidly changing global situation.
This week, Singapore decided to disallow short-term visitors, such as tourists and businessmen, from entering or transiting. Returning work pass holders were also barred from entering, unless they were providing essential services like healthcare and transport.
Wong said the government took this significant move because Covid-19 is an unprecedented crisis that requires the government to move decisively to keep Singapore’s borders safe.
The government’s key objective in fighting the virus is also to focus the country’s resources on the large number of Singaporeans returning from overseas, he added.
Noting that there are more than 200,000 Singaporeans currently overseas, Wong said the government needs to concentrate its resources on those Singaporeans who want to come back as more countries go into lockdown mode.
The numbers are significant, with about 1,200 Singapore residents returning from the United Kingdom and United States every day.
Besides identifying those with symptoms at the airport, the government is ramping up testing capacity to test as many as possible, he said. — The Straits Times/ANN
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