In an effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus, Singapore announced on Jan. 31 that it is closing its borders to visitors with Chinese passports or who have traveled to mainland China within the last 14 days. The open-ended ban begins tomorrow. The city-state is also immediately suspending the issuance of all new visas to anyone with a passport from the People's Republic of China, and it is likewise suspending its policy of acting as a visa-free transit facility for those with Chinese passports.
Singapore residents and long-term pass holders will still be granted entry, though they will be placed under a 14-day "leave of absence" from work and school and are advised to "avoid social contact" and are urged to remain in their homes.
"[W]e are likely to see a sharper rise in the spread of the virus to Chinese cities beyond Hubei in the coming days," read a statement from Singapore's Ministry of Health. "Therefore, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on the Wuhan Coronavirus has decided to take further steps to limit the potential risk that new travelers arriving from mainland China pose to Singapore."
This announcement, which came after the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a global health emergency, is an expansion of Singapore's earlier limits, which restricted only those travelers arriving from central Hubei. The city-state has at least 13 confirmed infections of the virus, which has caused more than 200 deaths in China.
This makes Singapore the first nation in Southeast Asia to take such a dramatic step, though several other countries have restricted entry for travelers arriving from mainland China. Russia, Mongolia and North Korea have closed their land borders to China. Hong Kong has halted direct trains and ferries and closed some border crossings, while Vietnam has closed its Lao Cai border crossing.
"There remains no evidence of community spread in Singapore, and these latest measures are aimed at minimizing the risk of this occurring," stated the Ministry of Health. "They will also help to stem the global spread of the virus. These latest steps are part of a calibrated series of measures we have taken as the situation of the virus outbreak has evolved."