Singapore freezes all new vaccinated travel lanes amid fears of Omicron variant

Out-Law News | 03 Dec 2021 | 1:53 am | 1 min. read

Singapore will freeze all new vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) and planned relaxations on social measures.

It has done so in response to the classification of the Omicron variant of the Covid-19 virus as a ‘variant of concern’ by the World Health Organisation (WHO) last week, according to an announcement by Singapore’s ministry of health (MOH).

The country will test travellers and airline staff who arrived in Singapore over the past 10 days who have recent travel histories to the affected regions. Travellers will, where possible, be required to take a certain type of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test which can distinguish between Omicron and other known Covid-19 variants. An individual who is suspected of being infected with the Omicron variant will be admitted to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and will be managed until the person has a negative result via repeat testing.

The MOH might consider building up “dedicated isolation facilities for Omicron”, it said.

Earlier the week, Singapore announced that it would defer the launch of planned VTLs with Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Mayumi Soh of Pinsent Masons MPillay, the Singapore joint law venture between MPillay and Pinsent Masons, said: “The latest developments show that the Covid-19 pandemic situation is very fluid and travellers are likely to continue to face considerable uncertainty when making travel plans.”

Earlier this week, the MOH restricted travel from seven countries particularly affected by the Omicron variant. Arriving travellers with recent travel records to South Africa, which was in category II, are subjected to a 7-day SHN at their declared place of accommodation; and those who with recent travel records to the other six countries are required to serve a 10-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) “at dedicated SHN facilities”. South Africa later was moved to category IV, with travellers now subject to the stricter measures.