Forum: Lift travel quarantine restrictions for healthcare workers

The news that Singapore and Hong Kong have agreed to create a two-way air travel bubble for leisure travel without the need for quarantine is much welcomed (Two-way air travel bubble a first for HK and Singapore, Oct 16).

With the year-end school holidays coming, it seems that Hong Kong could be the only potential overseas holiday destination for Singaporeans.

Details of the agreement have yet to be revealed and would be subject to conditions, including testing negative for Covid-19.

I assume travellers would have a Covid-19 swab test done before departure, and have another test upon arrival at the destination. So presumably, each traveller would have a total of four Covid-19 swabs done on the to and fro journey.

The cost of travel will increase but travellers will not have to undergo a 14-day quarantine at either place.

According to a circular by the Ministry of Health dated Sept 7, healthcare workers who travel overseas will be subjected to a special quarantine upon return. For 14 days after returning from overseas, healthcare workers like doctors are not allowed to have contact with patients.

So if a doctor takes his family to Hong Kong for a one-week holiday in December, he would have to stay away from patients for another 14 days upon returning to Singapore.

For salaried doctors like those in public hospitals, it will be hard to take three consecutive weeks off.

Even for doctors in private practice, the extra two weeks of no-patient contact would mean a substantial loss of income.

All healthcare workers wear personal protective equipment at work when coming in contact with patients. The risk of transmission during a consultation is negligible.

I hope the multi-ministry task force will allow healthcare workers to travel just like any other Singaporean.

Desmond Wai (Dr)

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