Singapore is going to ban nonresident visitors from India

Published on : Thursday, April 22, 2021

Singapore to ban non-resident visitors from India amid fears of Covid-19 reinfection among recovered migrant workers.

Singapore will ban entry to all non-residents travelling from India from Friday night, as it faces a new infection cluster among its largely South Asian migrant worker community that has raised fears of reinfection among recovered coronavirus patients.

From 11.59pm on Friday, all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history to India within the last 14 days cannot enter or transit through Singapore, including those who have obtained prior approval, authorities said on Thursday.

A multi-ministry taskforce that manages the coronavirus pandemic also revealed that scientific evidence from recovered patients who had caught Covid-19 almost a year ago showed it was possible for antibody levels to decrease.

These findings were released after an announcement on Singapore’s long-awaited travel bubble with Hong Kong did not take place as expected on Thursday. Sources said Singapore had sought to push back the announcement to next week and that the quarantine-free arrangement would start in late May.

About one in three of Singapore’s 1 million low-wage migrant workers live in mega-dormitories and factory-converted complexes, and they bore the brunt of the city state’s infections last year. These workers primarily hail from South Asian countries and mainland China, working in the construction, marine shipyard and process sectors.

Since November, the number of infections from dormitories has dwindled significantly. But this week, 19 migrant workers at the Westlite Woodlands Dormitory tested positive for COVID-19.

One of the cases was a 35-year-old Bangladeshi worker, who showed a positive result during a routine test on April 19, six days after he was fully vaccinated. His roommate also tested positive, as did 17 others in the same dorm who had previously recovered from the virus.

Officials have assembled an expert panel of infectious diseases and microbiology experts to assess if these are new infections or if the workers are shedding viral fragments from their earlier infections.

Meanwhile, authorities are also monitoring how long vaccinations can remain effective and if it is necessary to give the population booster shots.

Dr Kenneth Mak, the director of medical services at the Ministry of Health, said Singapore believed the vaccinations could last for 15 to 18 months, and beyond that, it was “a relatively uncertain situation” but authorities were monitoring the immunity levels in those who had been vaccinated. Booster shots may be given if those started declining.

Mak said the government was also preparing for the possibility that current vaccines may not be as effective against future Covid-19 variants. Manufacturers were studying this and hoped to produce improved versions of the vaccines, he said.

When such a product is available, we may plan to make that available as booster doses [among those] that have previously been vaccinated.

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