Foreign travellers who have not been vaccinated against certain infectious diseases may not be allowed to enter Singapore, if proposed changes to the Infectious Diseases Act (IDA) become law.
The proposal is to "better manage the risk of importation of serious infectious diseases into Singapore", said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Tuesday (Jun 26).
Currently, people entering Singapore are required to be vaccinated against Yellow Fever if they travelled from at-risk countries. Those who did not have the jab may be subjected to vaccination, isolation or surveillance in Singapore, and travellers who refuse to comply may be returned to their place of embarkation.
Under the proposed changes, authorities will be given "discretionary powers" to turn back unvaccinated foreign travellers, without first offering vaccination, isolation or surveillance.
"This is in line with international practice," said the ministry in a media release.
"This discretion will be exercised judiciously, in scenarios where it is impractical to offer vaccination, isolation or surveillance," it added.
"Unwell travellers arriving in Singapore will not be turned away, and will continue to receive medical attention as needed."
CONTINUED EFFORTS TO PREVENT INFECTIOUS DISEASES
The proposal is among several changes that MOH is seeking public feedback on.
The ministry noted that infectious diseases such as Avian Influenza, Ebola, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) are serious public health threats globally.
"As a major global trade and travel hub, it is imperative that we remain vigilant to public health threats, and safeguard the health of Singaporeans by protecting the community against new and emerging infectious diseases, both locally and overseas," said MOH.
Another proposed amendment to the IDA would allow the ministry to stop people who break isolation or movement restriction orders from leaving Singapore.
"Instead of arresting them, MOH will also be empowered to take necessary measures, including the use of physical means, to reinstate the isolation or movement restriction order to mitigate the risk of disease spread posed by the person." the ministry said.
It added that a "risk-stratified approach" will be used to manage individuals with different levels of public health risk.
Those considered lower-risk will be allowed to visit certain defined places without strict home quarantine. They may be allowed to perform some job roles instead of facing a blanket stop-work order if certain conditions are met.
Under the amended Act, MOH said it would also be able to enlist the assistance of Singapore-based mobile operators, air, sea and land transport operators and port service and transport facility operators to disseminate health advisories to visitors or those who have visited areas affected by an infectious diseases.
Members of the public can give their feedback on the proposed amendments from Jun 27 to Aug 7.
The public consultation paper can be found on REACH and on the MOH website from 9am on Wednesday.