VTL ticket sales on hold amid Omicron concerns

by ASILA JALIL / Pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

TICKET sales for the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) between Malaysia and Singapore via both land and air have been put on hold following suspected Omicron variant Covid-19 cases in the republic.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar said the temporary freeze on ticket sales takes effect from today until Jan 20, 2022.

“However, for travellers who have already obtained a VTL ticket for land and air travels, and meet the requirements set under the initiative, they can proceed with their travels,” the minister said in a statement yesterday.

Sales of both bus and plane tickets for the initiative will reopen on Jan 21, 2022, after a risk assessment is made based on the Covid19 situation in both countries.

Khairy, however, noted that the capacity of tickets sold will be reduced from the current quota.

On Dec 20, 2021, Singapore’s Ministry of Health issued a statement regarding a local Covid19 cluster involving three positive cases.

Further tests conducted on the cases found that two of them were of the Omicron variant, while the result for the other case is still pending. None of these cases had travelled abroad.

“Further information on the latest update regarding the pause on ticket sales for VTL can be obtained from Malaysia’s Transport Ministry (air VTL) and the International Trade and Industry Ministry (land VTL).

“The Health Ministry (MoH) urges all travellers to be responsible and always abide by the instructions as well as the standard operating procedures that have been set,” said Khairy.

He also urged travellers to consistently conduct self tests to ensure they know their risks and reduce the risks of infecting other individuals.

On Nov 29, both governments agreed to initiate the VTL via land and air, limited to travellers who have received complete doses of the Covid-19 vaccination.

Via this initiative, travellers do not need to undergo mandatory quarantine upon arrival at their respective destination, but are still subject to conduct Covid-19 tests before departure and upon arrival.

On Dec 7, the MoH enhanced the procedures and control measures on international travellers, including those who arrived at Malaysia’s international entrance via VTL, to prevent the spread of the virus.

The enhanced measures include ensuring travellers conduct RTK-Ag or rapid test kit on the second, fourth and sixth days upon arrival, as well as RTK-Ag test or rapid antigen test (professional) on the third and fifth days after their arrival.

Malaysia has recorded 13 Omicron Covid-19 cases. The recent 11 cases detected on Dec 18 were imported, comprising three travellers from the UK, three from the US, two from Saudi Arabia, two from Nigeria and one case from Australia.

The first Omicron variant case in the country was detected on Dec 3, involving a 19 year-old South African student who entered Malaysia on Nov 19 via the Kuala Lumpur International Airport from Singapore.

The second case was detected on Dec 14 involving an eight-year old local citizen who had stayed in Lagos, Nigeria, with her family.

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