Letter of the day

Extend Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme to more countries

Although the number of daily Covid-19 infections has shot up tremendously, it is time to let in more tourists.

I know this sounds counter-intuitive. So let me explain.

We started out with a zero-Covid-19 strategy and imposed very strict restrictions.

As a result, we were more successful in controlling the spread of infection. We had to be extra careful about the risk of imported cases from countries with higher infection rates.

No country can lock down forever because people need to work. Our hotels, shops and restaurants are crying out for more tourists.

So we are moving to a "live with Covid-19" strategy now that we are among the most-vaccinated countries in the world. This means infection will spread but the number of deaths could be kept low.

I propose that we open our borders to people from countries that are equally or less infected, provided, of course, that they are fully vaccinated and test negative before boarding the plane.

Here is an illustration of what I mean. On Sept 30, Australia had 2,850 cases. But Australia has a larger population of 25.69 million. This means that there were 111 new cases per million people.

On the same day, we had 2,478 cases out of a population of about 5.5 million. This works out to be 451 infections for every million people. Thus we are a more infected population than Australia. So why are we keeping Australian tourists away?

There are many other countries which have the same or lower prevalence of infection as Singapore.

A quick look at the data shows that we can include countries such as the United States, Britain, France, Japan and South Korea.

It is time to increase the number of countries in the Vaccinated Travel Lane so that our hotels, attractions, shops and restaurants can again prosper.

Tan Keng Soon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 08, 2021, with the headline 'Extend Vaccinated Travel Lane scheme to more countries'. Subscribe