50.2% of 271 imported Covid-19 cases from South Asia in past 28 days were S'poreans or PRs: MOH

There have been 271 imported cases from South Asia in the past 28 days.

Jane Zhang | May 16, 2021, 12:16 AM

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More than half of Singapore's imported Covid-19 cases coming from South Asia between Apr. 16 and May 13 were Singapore citizens or permanent residents (PRs), the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on May 15.

Responding to queries about the number of imported cases who were short-term visitors, MOH provided a breakdown of the proportion of the Covid-19 cases that have been Singapore citizens and PRs, long-term pass holders, and short-term visitors.

Breakdown of imported cases

In the 28 days between Apr. 16 to May 13, Singapore had 409 cases.

Of those cases, 41.6 per cent of them were Singapore citizens or PRs, 50.6 per cent were work pass holders, student pass holders, or dependents, and 7.8 per cent were short-term visitors.

In terms of imported cases coming from South Asia, there were 271 in the past 28 days. 50.2 per cent were Singaporeans or PRs, 46.5 per cent were work pass holders, student pass holders, or dependents, and 3.3 per cent were short-term visitors.

Short-term visitors are only allowed to enter Singapore if they have family ties here, on compassionate grounds such as to attend a funeral, or to seek medical treatment, MOH said.

Not possible for any country to seal itself off completely

The ministry wrote, "The B1617 variant prevalent in South Asia is not just a Singapore problem. The WHO has deemed it a variant of global concern."

It has affected regions such as Europe, the U.S., Australia, Japan, and China.

"This is a major reason why transmission is rising throughout Asia — in Malaysia, Thailand, Japan. Even hitherto safe regions, such as Singapore, Taiwan and Vietnam, are experiencing outbreaks of community cases."

MOH wrote that these cases originated from imports because "all borders are porous":

"All it takes is one case to cause an outbreak, and no country can seal itself off totally. At the minimum, citizens and residents must be allowed to return home."

The ministry reiterated that the virus can be from Singaporeans, PRs, work pass holders, or short-term pass visitors alike, and that every arrival is subject to stringent SHN and tests.

"Community transmission occurred nevertheless because the virus breached our safe measures, including at Changi Airport," MOH stated.

"This is a challenge faced by all countries because no one can entirely close their borders."

Top photo by Joshua Lee.