The rise in COVID-19 infections recently has prompted the Singaporean government to tighten rules on social gatherings and restrict border measures.
After reporting few local infections for months, positive cases have increased in the Asian trade and financial hub over the last week, mainly linked to an outbreak at a hospital. The country also records locally acquired cases of coronavirus variants, including a more contagious strain first detected in India.
Set to take effect from Saturday (May 8), the stricter measures include extending checks on where incoming travelers have been to three weeks earlier, instead of two weeks currently. Meanwhile, all visitors with a recent travel history in higher-risk countries and who arrive from Saturday onwards will also need to be in quarantine for 21 days, instead of 14.
Social gatherings will be limited to five people only, while indoor gyms and fitness studios – which are seen as high-risk places for infections – will be shut.
The new measures amount to the tightest local restrictions since Singapore started easing curbs in the middle of last year after a partial lockdown, Reuters reports.
Among infections detected in the latest COVID-19 cluster in a hospital, nine out of 40 cases had already been fully vaccinated.
“Because of vaccination, these cases are either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms, and none has required oxygen so far,” said health minister Gan Kim Yong. “Therefore vaccination remains an important tool to help lower the risk of infection and severe disease,”
The minister added that authorities could not rule out a return to a partial lockdown again, if the situation worsened.
Though Singapore’s daily cases are only a fraction of the number being reported among Singapore’s Southeast Asian neighbours, a jump in infections would be a setback for the Asian business hub, which has successfully contained its earlier outbreaks.