Several countries around Southeast Asia that had previously opened their borders without quarantine have now decided to re-lock their entry access to foreigners.
Singapore has taken the step of temporarily closing entry services without quarantine and the vaccinated travel lane, starting Thursday 23rd December 2021. This closure will last until 20th January 2022, at least.
“This measure will help limit Singapore’s exposure to imported cases of Omicron,” said Singapore’s Health Ministry quoted through Channel News Asia.
However, the temporary closure does not apply to passengers who already have a VTL flight or bus ticket. If those passengers meet the applicable COVID-19 vaccination and test requirements, they will still be allowed to enter Singapore.
The decision to close was taken shortly after the country’s authorities reported its first suspected local Omicron cluster. The cluster is said to be linked to a gym and three patients were reported to be infected.
Thailand has also suspended their policy of allowing overseas visitors to enter the country without quarantine, starting Wednesday 22nd December 202 until 4th January 2022. After that, the Thai government will review the situation before deciding on an extension or revocation of the policy.
“This cancellation is temporary in nature and was issued to prevent the spread of the latest variant of COVID-19,” said Thai foreign ministry spokeswoman Tanee Sangrat, as reported by the Straits Times.
The suspension of the quarantine-free policy was announced one day after Thailand discovered Omicron’s first local transmission. The infection involves a partner who had been vaccinated with a woman who was infected by her husband after arriving from abroad.
So far, 63 people in Thailand have been infected with this variant.
The Omicron variant has spread in about 100 countries around the world. The variant that originally appeared and spread in Africa has also been found in Indonesia.
So far, Indonesia has reported eight infections caused by the virus which has 32 mutations.