Protecting Our Border Stemming the Spread of COVID-19

Even as COVID-19 moves from pandemic to endemic, NEA is taking no chances. With the nation gearing up to eventually open our borders, we have been boosting our response efforts to keep our community safe.

Protecting the border became one of our first priorities. As the first line of defence in preventing the spread of the COVID-19 virus into Singapore, NEA’s Port Health Section was tasked to review a daily average of 350 Maritime Declaration of Health submissions by ship agents and shipmasters in 2020. This helped us detect ships of high risk to public health and carry out initial health risk assessments and propose appropriate control measures to mitigate the risk. Apart from issuing Quarantine Orders, we also extracted infected cases to the hospital or quarantine facility and provided guidance on the disinfection of the ship before allowing the ship to resume activities or leave port.

To encourage the practice of safe distancing, NEA swung into action in the early days of COVID-19 to deploy Safe Distancing Ambassadors at the hawker centres and markets. Besides sourcing manpower from the recruitment agencies, NEA also partnered with the public service and private sectors to redeploy their employees. A number of public agencies have redeployed their officers as Safe Distancing Enforcement Officers (SDEO).

SG Clean Ambassador  Safe Distancing Enforcement Officer

To enforce safe distancing, we developed and implemented operational protocols on the rules of engagement for our SDEOs and responses to scenarios, such as encountering offenders who were not properly masked in public places, or failed to adhere to safe distancing measures in queues. Over 370 officers were empowered under the COVID-19 (Temporary Measures) Act with legislative powers to carry out their duties. We also closed all the designated smoking areas (DSAs) in the Orchard Road No Smoking Zone at the start of the Circuit Breaker and subsequently, prepared for the re-opening of DSAs when Circuit Breaker measures were eased. Additionally, audits were conducted at licensed funeral parlours and funeral activities at the government after-death facilities, to ensure safe distancing measures were complied with.

Qing MingWith the mode of transmission relatively unknown in the early days of the pandemic, NEA also looked into the safety measures to be taken when handling deceased bodies of COVID-19 victims. We implemented safety protocols to keep our staff from possible exposure to the virus, which included donning personal protective equipment, and intensified disinfection procedures for cremation services. In addition, the government columbaria were closed to visitors during the Circuit Breaker. To keep within the prevailing safe management measures, NEA issued entrance passes for each cremation and burial, and introduced an e-appointment booking system during Qing Ming to limit the number of attendees allowed entry into Mandai Crematorium or access to burial plots at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery.

We focused on effective communications to give advice and assurance to the public and dispel fake news, via regular public communications through the media, social media and advertisements.