When going through the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) COVID-19 update yesterday, nothing seemed amiss at first.

Our case numbers jumped a little, but everything else pointed to an improvement in the situation.

But then we scrolled down to the very last paragraph where the word “Omicron” was used, and knew instantly that it was bad news.

Here’s what the ministry said:

2 SIA Passengers Who Transited in S’pore Later Tested Positive for Omicron Variant

According to MOH, the New South Wales Heath Ministry in Australia has confirmed that two travellers who arrived in Sydney after transiting in Singapore had tested positive for the Omicron variant.

The travellers had come from Johannesburg, South Africa and arrived in Singapore on Sunday (27 Nov) via Singapore Airlines SQ481.

Most of the passengers aboard had remained in the transit area at Changi Airport until their departure for Sydney on 28 November, MOH said, and did not enter Singapore or visit other areas in Changi Airport.

Seven passengers had disembarked and entered Singapore, while six are currently on 10-day Stay-Home Notice (SHN) at a dedicated facility and will undergo a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

The two travellers who are confirmed carriers of the Omicron variant had tested negative on their pre-departure tests last Saturday (26 Nov).

One of the passengers on the flight was a close contact of an infected individual and has been quarantined as well.

“Contact tracing is ongoing for airport staff who may have come into transient contact with the cases,” it added.

Australia now has five confirmed cases of the new Omicron strain, four of which are in New South Wales. As of now, no cases of the new COVID-19 variant have been detected in Singapore.

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S’pore Defers VTL With Qatar, Saudi Arabia & UAE

While it is not known for certain that the Omicron variant is more infectious, the authorities here, and in many other countries, are taking no chances.

This is why the government deferred the launch of our Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) arrangement with Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which was due to launch on 6 Dec.

MOH explained that these three countries are in closer proximity to the affected countries of Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

Australia is playing it safe too, as the authorities introduced a new requirement for travellers for the affected countries listed above to quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival.

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