Malaysia-Singapore VTL continues despite detection of Omicron case

By BERNAMA / Pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

The air and land Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) between Singapore and Malaysia goes on despite the country recording its first case of positive COVID-19 Omicron variant of concern (VOC), said Minister of Health (MOH) Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said all travellers who arrived in Malaysia via air and land VTL are required to conduct COVID-19 self-test on the third and seventh day after arrival.

He said he had contacted his Singaporean counterpart, Ong Ye Kung, following the detection of the Omicron variant case.

“We reaffirm that the VTL will continue and we will continue to update each other on a daily basis and co-ordinate our responses accordingly,” he told a media conference on the development of COVID-19, here today.

Malaysia and Singapore launched the air and land VTL on Monday to allow travellers who had completed their vaccinations to enter each other’s country without having to undergo quarantine upon arrival in Malaysia and Singapore.

Malaysia recorded its first Omicron variant case involving a student from South Africa studying at a private university in Ipoh who was confirmed positive for the variant of concern (VOC) on Dec 2 as a result of genome sequencing conducted.

In the meantime, Khairy said the temporary ban on travellers from eight countries, namely, South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe and Malawi will continue.

For international tourists participating in the Langkawi Tourism Bubble, travellers arriving from all countries must undergo additional COVID-19 detection tests, namely, on the third and fifth day from the date of arrival, with professional RTK-Ag testing.

As an additional preventive measure, he said travellers arriving from high-risk countries at the international checkpoint in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) would be required to wear a digital tracker device during the Order For Supervision And Observation period (quarantine).

He said a list of high-risk countries would be provided by MOH through risk evaluations.

Khairy said the people need not panic at the emergence of the Omicron variant in the country because COVID-19 preventive measures enforced currently were seen as effective to prevent the spread of the pandemic.

“The existing preventive measures, standard operating procedure (SOP) and guidelines provided are very, very stringent.

“If we notice, other countries which are starting to tighten their measures due to Omicron, are actually implementing what Malaysia has implemented.

“I feel we are among the most careful countries in terms of prevention. We still have quarantine, wearing face mask, contact tracing system which I feel is quite thorough,” he said, adding that the people were encouraged to continue practice TRIIS (Test, Report, Isolate, Inform and Seek), and obtain COVID-19 vaccinations.

In the meantime, Khairy said the campaign on giving booster doses would be intensified and MOH is targeting at least 75 per cent of the population who had completed two doses of vaccine, to receive the booster dose.