More data needed before border measures can be eased for vaccinated travellers: Ong Ye Kung

More data needed before border measures can be eased for vaccinated travellers: Ong Ye Kung

People in masks at Changi Airport 15
Changi Airport staff members wearing personal protective equipment assist travellers at the check-in counters. (File photo: Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: Before border measures can be relaxed for people vaccinated against COVID-19, more scientific evidence is required on the extent that vaccines can reduce the chance of a person infecting others, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung on Monday (Mar 1).  

He was responding to MP Gan Thiam Poh's (PAP-Ang Mo Kio) parliamentary questions on vaccinations and travel.  

Mr Gan had asked about progress on reaching a bilateral agreement with countries to recognise the COVID-19 vaccination taken by residents travelling to each other's country. He also asked if Singapore will only accept vaccines that have been approved by the Health Sciences Authority and residents that have taken such approved vaccines before they can travel to Singapore.

Mr Ong said in Parliament that while vaccination has given countries hope that they may step down border measures and restore international air travel safely, more scientific data is needed for health authorities to determine the extent to which vaccines can reduce the likelihood of an individual infecting others. 

"Until then, it is premature to decide if border measures can be reduced for vaccinated individuals, and whether for purposes of implementing border measures, there should be differentiation between different vaccines," he said.

However, Singapore is looking to start work on a system of mutual recognition of vaccine certification between countries which is based on HealthCerts, a set of digital standards for issuing digital COVID-19 test result certificates.

READ: Singapore develops new standard for cross-border verification of COVID-19 test results

"We are in discussions at the International Civil Aviation Organization and with various countries on the mutual recognition of such certifications. Such bilateral discussions will take some time," Mr Ong said.

He added that over the past year, authorities have allowed some travel without requiring vaccinations as a condition for entry into Singapore. The Government thus has no plans to impose such a requirement.

"Instead, we will continue to use tests and SHN (stay-home notice) requirements to ensure that travellers do not bring the virus into our communities. I will elaborate more on these plans in the upcoming COS (Committee of Supply) for the Ministry of Transport," said Mr Ong.

Source: CNA/hm(gs)

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