S'pore experiencing second, larger wave of imported cases from Europe & US: Lawrence Wong

This is an 'immediate challenge' Singapore is facing.

Ashley Tan | Guan Zhen Tan | March 22, 2020, 01:40 PM

As Singapore sees a spike in the number of imported Covid-19 cases, the government has introduced even more rigorous border control measures.

As of Mar. 23, 2020, 11:59pm onwards, all short-term visitors will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore.

 

At a doorstop on Mar. 22, Minister for National Development and co-chair of the Multi Ministry Taskforce Lawrence Wong said that Singapore is currently experiencing a second wave of imported cases, something which he described as an "immediate challenge".

Second wave

Singapore saw its first wave of imported cases from Wuhan and China from late January.

The city of Wuhan has been pinpointed as the epicentre of the virus outbreak. 

While the number of cases from the first wave has stabilised, Singapore now has to contend with a second wave from other regions, Wong said.

"We are now facing a new wave of infected cases coming largely from Europe and America. This second wave is larger than the first wave from China."

He added that this challenge was not unique to Singapore, and was something Asian countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea are facing now.

This was why the government introduced further measures to curb the rise in imported cases.

"We are now putting new measures to ensure the problem doesn't grow further. We've limited the number of imported cases, we focus only on Singaporeans returning.

But importantly, we also have to ensure that our local measures are stringent — we continue with all our efforts and contact tracing, and enforcing our Stay-Home Notices."

Wong urged Singaporeans to abide by the 14-day SHNs and safe distancing measures.

Only through this, would Singapore be able to deal with the second wave of imported cases successfully.

More residents infected overseas

Mar. 21 saw one of Singapore's largest single-day increases in confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 39 of the 47 new cases being imported.

Of the 39, 16 have travel history to the UK, and majority of this number are aged 30 and below.

There is thus a possibility of these cases being Singaporean students or young adults who have been studying overseas.

 

On Mar. 17, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement urging Singaporean students overseas to return.

They stated that Institutes of Higher Learning in Singapore, which includes local universities and polytechnics, have started recalling their students who are on overseas internships or exchange programmes.

The Ministry of Education has also suspended all official overseas placements, including all internships and exchange programmes, until end-July 2020.

Europe has seen an extremely sharp increase in Covid-19 cases in recent weeks.

Italy, Spain, Germany and France have the highest number of cases, according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has reported 19,624 Covid-19 cases as of Mar. 21.

Top photo from Tan Guan Zhen and Hugh Llewelyn / Flickr