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Table 4 Singapore’s COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control policies

From: Policy disparities in fighting COVID-19 among Japan, Italy, Singapore and China

Phase Policy The Key elements
Phase 1 Setting up a Multi-Ministry Task Force The preliminary plan of the Multi-Ministry Task Force, drawn up after the 2003 SARS outbreak, was launched on 22 January 2020 to coordinate among departments and provide strategic and political guidance during the public health crisis.
Early isolation and early screening (1) On January 23,2020, Singapore set up a special team with the help of the information-based public health system to thoroughly investigate the personnel related to Wuhan.
(2) Isolation of early cases: On January 26, Singapore confirmed four cases of COVID-19. The Singapore government expropriated some student dormitories as isolation facilities. (3) The government had issued a law on home quarantine: from February 18, Singapore tightened the isolation regulations related to COVID-19 and issued a legally binding “stay at home notice”. Those who receive the notice shall not go out during home quarantine, otherwise they may face heavy penalty.
Border control measures (1) Temperature and health screening of incoming travellers from Wuhan since January 3, 2020, and extended to all travelers since January 29, 2020, is in place at all ports of entry. Travellers who meet the suspect case definition are conveyed directly to hospital.
(2) Singapore imposed entry restrictions on visitors from countries in outbreaks such as China, ROK, Northern Italy and Iran.
(3) From March 5, all inbound passengers who have symptoms such as fever and cough will be required to undergo a throat swab sample test.
(4) From March 23, short-term visitors and cruise ships are prohibited from docking.
Phase 2 Surveillance measures (1) According to the time and distance of contact with the confirmed cases, the contacts are divided into two categories, and tracking are carried out separately. Close contacts will be forced to be isolated for 14 days, and low-risk contacts will be actively detected.
(2) On March 21, 2020, the government launched the “Trace Together” APP for tracking close contacts of confirmed cases.
Community and social measures (1) The government only encouraged ill persons to wear masks to prevent them from infecting other. On February 1, 2020, the government distributed masks free of charge to residents across the country, with four masks per family. (2) On February 4, employees were encouraged to monitor their temperature and health regularly in workplace. (3) The school remains open, but implemented preventive measures, such as reducing group meetings and staggering meal times. (4) With the escalation of the epidemic situation, the taxi service will be stopped on February 9 and all activities with more than 50 people will be cancelled. Necessary activities must be recorded and turn away ill individuals.
Mature primary care setting (1) Majority of cases were isolated and treated at the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID), a 330-bed purpose built infectious diseases management facility. NCID can accommodate nearly 500 beds during an outbreak, enhancing Singapore’s infectious disease prevention capabilities.
(2) A network of > 800 Public Health Preparedness Clinics (PHPCs) was activated to enhance management of respiratory infections in the primary care setting, with subsidies extended to Singapore residents to incentivize them to seek care at these PHPCs. If it is highly suspected to be COVID-19, refer to the general hospital.
Phase 3 Strict community-wide measures (1) Since April 5, 2020, the Singapore government has distributed issued reusable masks to every household. At the same time, regardless of whether they wear masks, the government recommended that everyone wash their hands and observe social distance.
(2) From April7, all workplaces and shops providing non-essential services will be closed;
(3) From April 8, schools and pre-school education institutions will be closed and changed to home study;
(4) The public should stay at home as much as possible and not go out as much as possible. The gathering is limited to family members living together.
(5) Enterprise employees must work at home.