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Travellers going abroad after March 27 will have to pay full hospital fees if they get admitted for Covid-19 upon return

The Independent logo The Independent 25/3/2020 Anna Maria Romero
a group of people walking in front of a building © The Independent Singapore

Singapore—Among the announcements made by the multi-ministry task force on Tuesday evening (Mar 24) concerning overseas travel during this time is that residents and long term pass holders in Singapore who exit the country starting from Friday (Mar 27)  will be paying full fees in public hospitals in case they get admitted as possible Covid-19 cases within 14 days of their return.

The will also not be allowed to claim from Integrated Shield Plans or MediShield plans for treatment related to Covid-19 from private and public hospitals.

The task force was explaining implications to residents and long term pass holders should they go against the Government’s advice not to travel abroad at this time.

Gan Kim Yong, Singapore’s Health Minister, said that around one thousand citizens, PRs, and long term pass holders are going overseas daily, according to data from the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority, in spite of opposite travel advisories from the Government.

“These individuals pose a risk to the health of fellow Singaporeans when they return,” TODAY reports Mr Gan as saying.

Along with National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, the co-chair of the task force, Mr Gan urged everyone to take the measures implemented to prevent the spread of the coronavirus seriously.

As a further disincentive from overseas travel, the Ministry of Health (MOH) also said that work pass holders and their dependents that exit from Singapore from March 27 onwards are going to be “deprioritised” for approval upon their return and may even experience  “significant delays” before being permitted to return in the event that they persist in traveling abroad and come back positive for the coronavirus.

According to MOH, returnees from the United States and the United Kingdom make up the highest number of imported Covid-19 cases so far.

In a statement, MOH said it expects even more residents, which includes “a sizeable group of Singaporean students” to come back in the coming weeks, as different countries go into lockdown.

This has led the Government to partner with hotels that will function as dedicated facilities for returnees to stay for the duration of their 14-day stay-home notice (SHN).

Starting from 11:59 pm on Wednesday (Mar 25), a new protocol; will be put in place for returnees from the US and UK. From landing in the airport, they will be brought straight to the designated hotels into their own rooms, with meals served to them.

It is also possible, MOH added, that people who have just arrived from overseas trips who are now spending their SHN at home will be moved to these designated facilities as well.

Additionally, a Community Isolation Facility is now set up at D’Resort at Pasir Ris, which is an NTUC accommodation facility, should there be a continued rise in Covid-19 cases.

This facility can house up to 500 people and has been designated for Covid-19 patients who are still positive for the coronavirus but no longer need medical care. At the moment they are still in hospitals but will be transferred to the isolation facility so as to ensure more efficient use of the country’s hospital resources.

The patients in the isolation facility will be released when they’ve tested negative for the coronavirus. -/TISG


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