VTL travellers to take ART only if they leave home, no need to report results

The multi-ministry task force said it was time to simplify the VTL testing regime with community Omicron cases now outstripping imported ones. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Those entering Singapore through vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs) from Monday (Jan 24) will no longer need to perform antigen rapid tests (ART) every day, and instead will need to swab themselves only on days that they wish to head out.

They will also no longer be required to submit their ART results via a link given to them, and will just need to make sure they are Covid-19 negative before they leave their place of stay.

The announcement on Friday by the Covid-19 task force effectively ends the strict daily testing regime for VTL travellers that has been in place since Dec 6, and which has helped the authorities detect more than 700 imported Omicron cases to date.

The multi-ministry task force said it was time to simplify the VTL testing regime with community Omicron cases now outstripping imported ones, the lower viral load of the Omicron variant now clear, and more of the population having received their booster jabs.

"This will allow us to focus our testing resources on the community in preparation for an expected spike in the case numbers," said Trade and Industry Minister Gan Kim Yong, who is a co-chair of the Covid-19 task force.

"Travellers will undergo unsupervised, self-administered ARTs from days two to seven of their arrival only if they intend to leave the residence to go out, and that test must test negative, if they want to go out."

The requirement for an on-arrival polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test for those travelling by air and an on-arrival ART for those coming across the Causeway will remain.

In addition to the stopping of the daily testing regime, the Covid-19 task force also said on Friday that travellers will no longer need to go to test centres for supervised ARTs on day three and day seven after their arrival, mandated under the current regime.

From Monday, all ARTs will be self-administered and unsupervised. Each ART kit costs about $5, and supervised testing at test centres costs $15. The change should save a traveller $20 in total, assuming he tests himself daily for seven days.

It should also minimise unnecessary travel, especially for those who are Covid-19-positive.

The Ministry of Health (MOH) said those who test positive at any point during the seven-day test regime but have minimal symptoms need to self-isolate for only 72 hours at home, and will no longer need to undergo a confirmatory PCR test.

They can then resume normal activities once they test negative after the three-day self-isolation period.

However, MOH said the 50 per cent limit on VTL flights and bus tickets, which was imposed after Jan 20 to limit the country's exposure to imported Omicron Covid-19 cases, will remain.

This followed a freeze on all new ticket sales for VTL flights and buses between Dec 23 last year and Jan 20 this year.

The ministry said it will continue to review the local and global Covid-19 situation and adjust measures accordingly.

Read next - New VTL testing rules, suspension of hospital visits: Latest Covid-19 rules at a glance

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