Daily ART tests for all VTL travellers arriving in S'pore from Dec 7; more countries added to high-risk category

The tighter measures are in response to the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus. ST PHOTO: GIN TAY

SINGAPORE - All travellers entering the country on vaccinated travel lanes (VTL) from 11.59pm on Dec 6 will be put on a daily testing regime over seven days using antigen rapid tests (ARTs).

The Ministry of Health (MOH), in a statement on Friday (Dec 3), said the tests are all self-administered.

Travellers, it added, will be required to submit the results of their self-administered ART online using a link that will be sent to them via their declared contact details after arrival in Singapore.

The tighter rules come amid the emergence of the new Omicron variant of the coronavirus in many parts of the world.

MOH said that on the third and seventh days, the tests will have to be done under supervision at a combined test centre (CTC) or quick test centre (QTC).

During this seven-day period, other than on days when they go out for their supervised tests, these travellers must test negative on their self-administered ART before going out.

The latest measures - which will go hand in hand with the existing pre-departure and on-arrival tests required for VTLs - will also apply to travellers arriving from Malaysia using the land VTL from 11.59pm on Dec 6.

MOH said the new enhanced testing regime will remain in place for at least four weeks, until 11.59pm on Jan 2, 2022.

Also, travellers from seven more countries coming into Singapore will be placed in a higher-risk category for travel from 11.59pm on Dec 6. The countries are Bulgaria, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway and Poland.

MOH also said that 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, transfer or transit through Singapore from 11.59 pm on Dec 4.

MOH added that the restriction will also apply to those who have obtained prior approval for entry into Singapore, and will be applied for a four-week period, after which they will be reviewed and extended if necessary.

The Omicron variant was first identified by South Africa last week, and has been identified in dozens of countries in recent days.

MOH on Thursday said two imported Covid-19 cases have tested positive for the variant.

Both cases were isolated upon arrival in Singapore on Wednesday, and had no interaction with anyone in the community, the ministry added.

On Friday, MOH said tightened border measures will help to limit importation and transmission of Omicron cases as it continues to study the variant's characteristics.

But it added that the variant is highly transmissible and has spread to many parts of the world.

Thus, Singapore should expect to find more cases at its borders and, in time to come, also within the community, the ministry said.

"We seek Singaporeans' understanding and support in the coming weeks, as we will need to introduce or change our measures at short notice, in response to the fluid situation."

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