Singapore Halts Easing Of Measures So Authorities Can Learn About Omicron Variant

EDITOR’S NOTE: A previous version of this article quoted The Straits Times, saying that 6 VTLs will be postponed. The information is incorrect. The article has been updated to reflect this.

As the Omicron variant spreads around the world, countries have put in place measures to cut down the risk of transmission.

And Singapore is also choosing to err on the side of caution.

On Tuesday (30 Nov), the Multi-Ministry Task Force (MTF) said they would put further easing of safety measures on hold in light of the current situation.

Source

There will also be no more new VTL arrangements once the VTLs with 6 countries launch after mid-December.

Singapore halts easing of measures to buy time against Omicron

During the MTF press conference today (30 Nov), co-chair Minister Gan Kim Yong said Singapore would be making several “pre-emptive moves” due to the Omicron variant.

This would allow the country to “buy time” to learn more about the new enemy, reports Channel NewsAsia.

For starters, plans to ease existing social measures will be put on hold.

Previously, the MTF had said that the “next series of moves” would happen around end-Dec.

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Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said the move is a “prudent” one, given the Omicron variant’s uncertainties.

Though preliminary data suggest that existing vaccines should effectively prevent severe disease and death, more studies are needed to understand variant’s impact on Singapore’s safety measures, including vaccines and treatments.

According to The Straits Times, there will be no more new VTL arrangements after the VTLs with Thailand, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Cambodia, Fiji, and the Maldives start on 16 Dec.

Enhanced measures for air travellers

From 3 Dec, air travellers arriving under VTL arrangements will also have to undergo ARTs on the 3rd and 7th day of arrival. This is in addition to the PCR tests before departing to and arriving in Singapore.

In addition, air travellers who are entering, transferring, or transmitting from Category I countries must test negative on their pre-departure tests within 2 days of departure. These territories include:

  • China
  • Hong Kong
  • Macau
  • Taiwan

Previously, travellers from these countries need not take a pre-departure test and were only required to be swabbed upon arriving in Singapore.

Separately, travellers from Category II, III, and IV countries will need to undergo a PCR test upon arrival. This is in addition to the PCR test they’re currently required to take towards the end of their Stay-Home Notice (SHN) period.

These tightened measures will be in place for 4 weeks and will be reviewed and extended if necessary.

You can view the complete list of countries according to categories here.

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Featured image adapted by MS News.