Singapore restricts travelers from 7 African countries affected by a more contagious Covid-19 variant

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SINGAPORE: Singapore will limit entry for people with recent travel history to seven African countries after reports that a potentially more contagious Covid-19 variant could circulate there Ministry of Health said on Friday.
From kl. 23.59 (local time) on Saturday, all long-term passport holders and short-term visitors with travel history within the last 14 days to Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe will not be allowed to enter Singapore or transit here.
The restrictions also apply to those who have received prior approval for entry into Singapore.
Singapore citizens and permanent residents returning from these countries will need to leave a 10-day stay home at a special facility.
“There have been recent reports of a potentially more contagious variant of the COVID-19 virus, B.1.1.529, which can circulate in Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa and Zimbabwe,” Channel News Asia quoted MOH as said.
“Researchers around the world are still finding out more about the new variant of the virus, such as whether it is more transmissible than the Delta variant, whether it is more likely to lead to serious diseases and the effectiveness of existing vaccines against this new variant. ”
Although Singapore does not currently have any cases of this variant, “we should take the necessary precautions to reduce the risks” because it is spreading here, MOH said.
South Africa was previously a Category II country with travelers who received a seven-day stay at home at their declared accommodation after arriving in Singapore. It has now been reclassified to a Category IV country.
The other six are Category IV countries, with arriving travelers with a new travel history to those countries currently having to give a 10-day notice of staying at special facilities.
Singapore ranks categories I to IV to determine the type of travel restrictions imposed.
The new border restrictions will initially apply for four weeks, and MOH will review and extend the restrictions if necessary.
“Although the variant has been suggested to be more transmissible, there is currently insufficient evidence to determine whether this variant is associated with any change in disease severity, antibody response or vaccine efficacy. These aspects are being investigated,” the MOH said.
“The Ministry of Health will evaluate the data when they emerge and review our border measures accordingly,” the channel quoted the ministry as saying.
At the same time, Singapore reported 1,275 new Covid-19 infections on Thursday, a decrease from 2,079 on Wednesday and the lowest daily figure since September 21.
Three people between 69 and 74 died of complications linked to Covid-19, said MOH.
The latest deaths bring the total number of deaths in Singapore to 681.
The new infections included 1,228 cases in the community, 31 in migrant workers’ dormitories and 16 imported cases.
The total number of cases in Singapore now stands at 258,785.

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