Omicron variant: Launch of VTLs with Qatar, Saudi Arabia & UAE deferred until further notice

This is in view of their proximity as transport nodes to the affected African countries.

Karen Lui | November 28, 2021, 11:05 PM

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On Nov. 28, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced that the launch of the Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTLs) with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be deferred until further notice.

The VTLs with the aforementioned countries were initially planned to launch on Dec. 6, with applications for the Vaccinated Travel Pass (VTP) for short-term visitors and long-term pass holders initially planned to open on Nov. 29.

Precautionary measure against Omicron

The deferment of the VTLs is a precautionary measure to reduce the risks of importation and spread of the Omicron variant (also known as the B.1.1.529 variant), which the World Health Organization (WHO) classified as a variant of concern on Nov. 26, MOH said.

This variant has been detected in several African countries: Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

MOH said that it is deferring VTLs with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) because of their proximity as transport nodes to the affected countries above.

The press release added that scientists around the world are presently working to determine the characteristics of the new Omicron variant, such as whether it is more transmissible than the Delta variant, and if it is more likely to lead to severe illnesses.

As of today, the Omicron variant has not been detected in Singapore.

MOH said that it will provide more details on the commencement of these VTLs at a later date.

The health ministry is reviewing border measures and will announce more details soon. It will continue to adjust border measures as the global situation evolves.

For more information on updated border measures, you can visit the SafeTravel website.

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Photo by ZQ Lee on Unsplash.

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