Singapore: a guarded opening against Covid-19

By Paloma Almoguera

Singapore, Jan 20 (EFE).- An exhaustive monitoring of infections, which includes video calls from authorities in case of testing positive, and surveillance of its citizens through mobile applications with “bluetooth” technology, are some of the measures Singapore imposes to live with the coronavirus and abandon its zero-infection policy.

The city-state, which has marked two years of pandemic with one of the lowest Covid-19 mortality rates on the planet – achieved in part thanks to the semi-closure of its borders until a few months ago – has proposed a gradual opening, very much in line with its government style based on controls and penalties.

The nearly 5.7 million citizens of the country, which on Thursday registered some 1,615 infections, are beginning to leave and return without the long planned quarantines.

The nation exempts passengers from 24 countries (including the United States and some European and Asian destinations) from isolation as long as they travel on “vaccinated travel lane” flights. The rest must serve at least 10 days either in their home or in assigned centers and hotels upon return.

Although the travel lane formula tries to promote travel on an island dependent on its status as a regional hub for multinationals and a popular tourist destination, isolation is still a possibility.

According to a protocol created before the appearance of omicron, travelers must start a week of daily tests upon return, which will lead to 10 days of quarantine if they test positive.

These are the measures Singapore hopes won’t be ruined by the variant as it plans for a much-needed opening from the economic point of view, while containing contagion.

With one of the highest per capita incomes on the planet, the country last year overcame the recession in which it plunged in 2020 thanks to a rebound in the last quarter, when the measures that kept it isolated began to be relaxed.

This does not imply absolute flexibility. Both citizens who test positive – either newcomers or those infected within the island, which account for the majority of the approximately 1,500 daily cases – and their close contacts receive exhaustive monitoring by the authorities.

In addition to having to update their health status every day through web pages, they are regularly contacted, sometimes by video call, by government employees and a doctor monitoring the disease and ensuring rules are followed to avoid penalties, large fines, jail or deportation.

They will also receive a kit with a thermometer, oxygen meter and disinfectant gel at their home, courtesy of the government. EFE


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