by BERNAMA / pic by AFP
SINGAPORE will require additional testing for travelers and extend travel curbs to more African countries, as it rolls out more measures to allow it time to figure out how to deal with the omicron coronavirus variant.
All travelers on its so-called vaccinated travel lanes will have to be put on a daily testing regime over seven days using self-administered rapid testing, the Ministry of Health said in a statement on Friday. This measure, coming into effect from Dec. 7, is on top of on-arrival polymerase chain reaction for air travelers, as well as supervised rapid testing at test centers on days three and seven after arrival.
In addition, all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with recent travel history to Ghana, Malawi and Nigeria within the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter the country, or transit through the city-state, from Dec. 5, the statement said.
“Should the omicron variant be more transmissible than delta and become the globally dominant variant over time, it is a matter of time before it establishes itself in Singapore,” according to the statement. It said the extra measures will help to “buy time” to learn more about dealing with omicron, and to continue with its booster program.
The government needs to remain “nimble” in its responses, and said it will need to introduce or change its measures at short notice, reacting to the fluid situation.
Here are more details and comments from the statement:
- Enhanced testing regime will also apply to vaccinated land travelers coming from Malaysia from Dec. 7
- Testing regime as well as extension of travel curbs will be in place initially for four weeks
- Bulgaria, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway and Poland will be placed in so-called Category III travel health curbs from Dec. 7, where travelers need to do a 10-day quarantine at home or in a hotel
- Currently no evidence to suggest that symptoms associated with omicron are different or more severe than those of other variants, or that current vaccines and therapeutics would be ineffective against omicron; more data and further studies needed to verify this
- Preliminary studies lend confidence that rapid testings remain effective to detect Covid-19 cases, including omicron