Yellow fever scare: Singapore to send back ‘unvaccinated’ foreign travellers

Singapore: Singapore may start turning back foreign visitors “who do not have required vaccinations”, authorities said on Wednesday, in a bid to protect the tightly-controlled country from infectious diseases.

The country of 5.6 million people is a popular tourist destination, with 17.4 million visitors arriving in 2017. It was hit hard by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003.

Travellers are currently only required to be vaccinated against yellow fever, in line with international regulations. Authorities could require vaccinations against more diseases in future, depending on the health situation at the time.

Visitors who have not been vaccinated can enter but on condition, they get the vaccine, and they may be put in isolation or under surveillance. However, proposed legislative changes, which were published by the health ministry, would give authorities power to turn back unvaccinated non-citizens to the country they came from.

The move is aimed at safeguarding the city-state from diseases like bird flu, Ebola and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, the ministry said. The SARS outbreak in 2003 killed 33 people in Singapore.