Singapore Airlines (SIA) announced on Saturday, April 25, that flight capacity will be reduced by 96 percent through the end of June due to a decrease in demand amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. As such, the airline will only operate flights to 15 cities during this time period, and approximately 10 of SIA's 200 aircraft will remain in service. The announcement comes four days after Singapore Airlines decided to extend cancelations through May.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced a four-week extension to Singapore's circuit breaker measures until Monday, June 1, in order to reduce the number of community COVID-19 cases and contain the spread of the virus in migrant worker dormitories. Existing measures will also be tightened, including the closure of more workplaces, and further decreasing the number of workers in essential services. All standalone food and beverage outlets selling mainly drinks and snacks, as well as hair salons, have been ordered to close by 23:59 (local time) on Tuesday, April 21. Pet supply stores and retail laundry services will only be allowed to provide online sales and delivery. The June school holidays will be brought forward to Tuesday, May 5, and are set to reopen on Tuesday, June 2. Entry restrictions are also being put in place at locations where large groups gather, such as wet markets and supermarkets, from Wednesday, April 22, through Monday, May 4. Shoppers with even last digit IC/FIN numbers can enter on even dates; those with odd last digit numbers are allowed to enter on odd dates.
Other containment measures remain in place as of April 25. The use of face masks is compulsory in public spaces and those who do not comply will face a fine. There are exemptions for those conducting strenuous exercise, such as running, and for children below the age of two. Around 20 percent of Singapore's workforce continues to commute to their place of employment as essential workers. A ban on all social gatherings in homes and public spaces remain in effect. Private gatherings, such as parties or gatherings with family and friends who do not live together, are included in these restrictions. Under the new law, the government will also be allowed to restrict individuals' movements and interactions at their residence and in public areas. According to authorities, the law will be valid for at least six months and could be extended for up to one year. Terminal 2 at Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) suspended all operations for 18 months from Friday, May 1. Moreover, as of Monday, scheduled flight operations have been rediverted to the airport's other terminals.
An entry ban on all short-term visitors remains in place. Only work pass holders, and their dependents, who provide essential services, such as healthcare and transport, will be allowed to enter the country with approval from the Ministry of Manpower. Malaysians with Singapore work permits will continue to be able to work in Singapore. All Singaporean citizens, permanent residents, long-term pass holders, and work pass holders entering the country will be issued a 14-day Stay at Home Notice (SHN) at dedicated facilities.
Singapore currently has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia. The majority of the confirmed cases are migrant workers living in shared dormitories where extensive testing is underway. A total of 19 dormitories have been gazetted as isolation areas. Authorities have also highlighted that the regular number of new unlinked cases recorded daily is a concern as it suggests the presence of unknown cases in the community. To date, there have been 12,69 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country and 12 associated deaths. Further international spread of the virus is to be expected in the near term.
The first case of COVID-19 was reported on December 31 and the source of the outbreak has been linked to a wet market in Wuhan (Hubei province, China). Human-to-human and patient-to-medical staff transmission of the virus have been confirmed. Many of the associated fatalities have been due to pneumonia caused by the virus.
Cases of the virus have been confirmed in numerous countries and territories worldwide. Virus-screening and quarantine measures are being implemented at airports worldwide, as well as extensive travel restrictions. On March 11, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the global outbreak a pandemic.
Pneumonia symptoms include dry cough, chest pain, fever, and trouble breathing. Pneumonia can be contagious and can be transmitted from human to human. The influenza virus, or the flu, is a common cause of viral pneumonia.
Measures adopted by local authorities evolve quickly and are usually effective immediately. Depending on the evolution of the outbreak in other countries, authorities are likely to modify, at very short notice, the list of countries whose travelers are subject to border control measures or entry restrictions upon their arrival to the territory in question. It is advised to postpone nonessential travel due to the risk that travelers may be refused entry or be subject to quarantine upon their arrival or during their stay.
To reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, travelers are advised to abide by the following measures:
- Frequently clean hands by applying an alcohol-based hand rub or washing with soap and water.
- When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with a flexed elbow or tissue; if used, throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands.
- If experiencing a fever, cough, difficulty breathing, or any other symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, including pneumonia, call emergency services before going to the doctor or hospital to prevent the potential spread of the disease.
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