SINGAPORE: National Development Minister Lawrence Wong on Tuesday (Mar 17) urged Singaporeans to comply with the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) advisory to defer non-essential travel, after the emergence of more imported COVID-19 cases involving Singapore residents who had returned from overseas. 

“We call on everyone to comply with this advisory and defer your travel plans,” Mr Wong said in a press conference held by the multi-ministerial task force dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.

“If there is no need to travel, please don’t travel during this period. It puts everyone at risk. You put yourself at risk and you put your family members and the people around you at risk,” he said, adding that Singapore was not “shutting down” its borders.

Mr Wong said that Singapore is not planning to call for a lockdown to curb the virus’ spread, but could consider “major circuit breakers” that potentially include measures like the temporary closure of schools and workplaces.

“If we are are vigilant, we implement our measures effectively, we do not have to lock down our city and we don’t want to lock down our city,” he said. ​​​​​​​

READ: Need for ‘global effort’ to tackle growing economic crisis brought on by COVID-19 outbreak: Lawrence Wong

READ: 17 new COVID-19 infections in Singapore in largest single-day increase to date

Mr Wong said that the majority of imported cases in recent days have not involved foreign visitors such as tourists, but Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term pass holders who had just been travelling and were infected by the virus when they were overseas. 

Anyone who decides to travel despite the advisory will have to use their personal leave to serve their stay-home or leave of absence notice. 

Additionally, the employers of such travellers will not be able to claim the S$100 daily allowance from the Ministry of Manpower, said Mr Wong. 

READ: Companies affected by Malaysia travel restrictions to get financial support 

Those who still wish to travel will “have to take responsibility for their actions”, he said.

Singapore reported 17 new infections on Monday – its largest single-day increase to date. Eleven were imported cases involving Singapore residents who had travelled to destinations like France, Spain, eastern Europe, the Netherlands and the United States.

MOH issued a travel advisory on Sunday advising all Singaporeans to defer non-essential travel. The advisory applied immediately and was set to last for 30 days, after which it would be reviewed. 

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