Omicron Variant: VTL Arrangements Halted By Singapore With 3 Countries
The Singaporean government has indefinitely terminated previously signed quarantine-free-vaccinated travel lane (VTL) agreements with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates due to the new Omicron variant of Covid.
Singapore was prepared to accept vaccinated visitors from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates without the need for quarantine under VTL agreements with these nations. This was supposed to go into effect on December 6th. However, owing to the impending emergence of the latest Covid variant, Omicron, Singapore halted these agreements as a precautionary measure to reduce the danger of new infections and Omicron infections from other nations.
Singapore recorded a two-month low of 747 new coronavirus infections as of last Sunday. And the Singaporean government issued this latest statement on its MOH website release.
According to a press statement issued by the Ministry of Health on November 28th, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates are near transit hubs connecting the Omicron-affected nations of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. As a result, the ministry has withdrawn the VTL arrangements, and the information on their implementation will be communicated later.
According to the earlier statement, VTL applications for short-term visitors and long-term permit holders would have begun on December 6. The most recent Omicron variation was detected in South Africa, and the World Health Organization has labelled it a “variant of concern.” However, no such illnesses have been documented in Singapore, and to avoid such infections, Singapore has barred admission to visitors with recent travel histories to seven African countries: Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Eswatini, South Africa, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong stated that the Multi-Ministry Taskforce had been closely watching the worldwide Covid issue and the new variation. He also expressed uncertainty about what additional precautionary measures would be taken but indicated that the government would surely take a few steps back for safety before taking fresh strides ahead.
He also emphasized that his and the government’s primary objective is to develop a safe strategy to live with the virus while still being able to perform normal things. All these restrictions are part of getting to a safe zone where doing normal things is not restricted and safe, as well as ensuring as few casualties as possible along the route.
The announcement also noted that doctors and scientists all across the world are working to discover the characteristics of the new variation, such as the transmission rate, severity, symptoms, after-effects, and so on.
Singapore And Malaysia VTL Air & Land Transit
Aside from these, Singapore and Malaysia are anticipating visitors to and from their respective nations with the debut of VTL air and land transit on December 6th.
Malaysian Prime Minister Ismail Sabri and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will watch the VTL inauguration from Causeway, the connection between Singapore and southern Peninsular Malaysia, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This launch is recognized as an essential step in restoring bilateral and regional connections.
This will also be the first formal visit to Singapore by a Malaysian prime leader since November 2018, when former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad paid a visit.
As of November 28th, Singapore had recorded 747 new COVID-19 cases, with 719 infections coming from the community, 25 from migrant workers’ dormitories, and three from international travellers, bringing the total number of covid infections to 2,62,383 since the pandemic began. The total number of deaths caused by coronavirus is 701, including the 11 deaths reported on the day of the report.
The Ministry of Health will provide further updates on any modifications to border controls on their SafeTravel website. As a result, the government urged travellers to consult this website before entering Singapore, based on their country of origin. They also urged being prepared to face countermeasures even after arriving in the nation.