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Nationals from Ebola-hit West African countries need visa to enter Singapore from Nov 5

Nationals from Ebola-affected African countries like Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will require a visa to enter Singapore with effect from Nov 5.

NATIONALS from Ebola-affected African countries like Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will require a visa to enter Singapore with effect from Nov 5.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) on Monday said that it has stepped up screening measures against the Ebola virus at the checkpoints and has also put in place several border control measures since Aug 7, in response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Lam Pin Min, Minister of State for Health, said in Parliament that from Wednesday, MOH, together with the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Home Affairs Ministry, Immigration and Checkpoints Authority and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, will impose temporary visa requirements for nationals from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone for entry into Singapore.

"This move will allow for better oversight, and control of entry of nationals from these countries, and facilitate possible contact tracing."

Nationals and travellers from countries with significant or potentially significant Ebola transmission - Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and DRC and Mali - will be screened for fever when they arrive at Singapore air-checkpoints.

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They will also have to complete a health declaration card and be assessed for the risk of exposure to Ebola through a questionnaire, said Dr Lam.

Health advisories on the Ebola virus will also be provided at all air, land and sea checkpoints to nationals from affected African countries, as well as passengers who self-declare their history of travel to these countries.

Still, Dr Lam pointed out that the border health measures will not be able to identify persons who are still in the incubation period and are not symptomatic or detect passengers who are not truthful in answering the screening questionnaires.

Suspect and confirmed cases of Ebola will be centrally managed in Tan Tock Seng Hospital, which has been designated as the national disease outbreak centre.

Dr Lam said the Ebola virus testing will be centrally conducted by the National Public Health Laboratory's designated testing facilities at Defence Science Organisation (DSO) National Laboratories.

Of the five Ebola cases that were diagnosed in Spain and the United States, three involved healthcare workers who had provided care to patients who were infected with Ebola in West Africa.

Investigations of these cases suggested possible breaches in infection control measures such as improper removal of personal protective equipment.

Dr Lam said even with proper equipment, protocols and training, human error can occur, as was observed in the cases of secondary transmission in Spain and the US.

He said MOH will continue to work with the National Infection Prevention and Control Committee and other experts to review guidances and protocols to ensure a high degree of competency and preparedness in hospitals here.

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