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Singapore

53 of 65 confirmed imported Omicron COVID-19 cases arrived in Singapore through VTLs: MOH

53 of 65 confirmed imported Omicron COVID-19 cases arrived in Singapore through VTLs: MOH

Travellers at Changi Airport in Singapore on Dec 2, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Roslan Rahman)

SINGAPORE: Fifty-three of the 65 confirmed imported Omicron COVID-19 cases arrived in Singapore via vaccinated travel lanes (VTLs), the Ministry of Health (MOH) said on Thursday (Dec 23).

Of these 53 cases that entered via VTLs, 41 infections were detected on arrival in Singapore through polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

The remaining 12 infections were detected subsequently through the enhanced testing regime for VTL travellers, said MOH in response to CNA's queries.

The Health Ministry added that more than 90 per cent of the Omicron cases that came in via the VTLs were returning Singaporeans, permanent residents and long-term residents.

It did not say which countries the confirmed imported Omicron cases arrived from.

MOH reported on Monday that 71 confirmed Omicron cases have been detected in Singapore, including the 65 imported infections and six local infections. 

The ministry said that it is ringfencing the Omicron cases through active contact tracing to reduce onward transmission.

"Close contacts of both suspect and confirmed Omicron cases will be placed on 10-day quarantine at dedicated facilities to minimise transmission," said MOH.

Singapore has frozen all new ticket sales for VTL flights and buses from Thursday to Jan 20, 2022, amid the "rapid spread" of Omicron infections in many countries.

This will help to limit Singapore's exposure to imported Omicron cases, said the Health Ministry on Wednesday. VTL quotas and ticket sales for travel will also be temporarily reduced after Jan 20, 2022.

Singapore has VTLs with more than 20 countries and regions, including Australia, Germany, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Under the VTL scheme, vaccinated travellers on designated flights and buses can enter Singapore without undergoing quarantine.

They must take a pre-departure PCR test or an antigen rapid test (ART) within two days before departure for Singapore.

Upon arrival in Singapore, air travellers must undergo a PCR test while those coming across the Causeway from Malaysia will need to take an ART.

VTL travellers must then take daily ARTs until day 7 of their stay. On days 2, 4, 5, and 6, they are required to submit the results of their self-administered ART online using a link that will be sent to them.

On days 3 and 7, the ARTs must be done under supervision at a combined test centre or quick test centre.

Singapore announced its first suspected Omicron cluster on Tuesday, involving cases at an Anytime Fitness outlet in Bukit Timah Shopping Centre.

On Wednesday, the country reported 76 new imported COVID-19 cases - the highest daily number of imported infections since the start of the pandemic.

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Source: CNA/dv(mi)

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