UPDATE: Singapore-Malaysia VTLs are a comfort to families looking for reunion, but Omicron has other plans in store

Another traveler who benefited from VTL was Malaysian Alice Peoh. The 33-year-old was able to use aerial VTL to attend her brother’s wedding in Singapore on November 30.

Ms Peoh and her two elderly parents were on the first VTL flight from Kuala Lumpur to Singapore on November 29.

“If it hadn’t been for VTL, we would have missed the wedding. This would not have been possible with the quarantine (restrictions in place), ”she said.

However, some travelers have raised concerns about the costs of the required COVID-19 testing.

For a round-trip air VTL, a single traveler would have to pay between S $ 300 and S $ 650 for swab testing.

Meanwhile, for the land VTL, an individual traveler is expected to spend between S $ 120 and S $ 170 for a round trip.

Ms Peoh said the cost of swab testing for her trip to Singapore was around S $ 400 per person.

“My parents had never had a swab test before, so doing four in a week was quite painful for them,” said Ms. Peoh, who was in Singapore for a week to attend the wedding.

“While the price of plane tickets was relatively affordable, PCR testing increased the expense. It hurt our nose and my (wallet), ”she added.

Singaporean Hamzah Hassan echoed similar sentiments.

In December, the 54-year-old traveled via aerial VTL with his wife and daughter to see his in-laws who live in Shah Alam, Selangor.

He expressed hope that the swab protocols for the VTL could be relaxed slightly, noting how he spent S $ 450 each for each family member just for COVID-19 testing procedures.

“These types of costs will deter people from traveling,” said Mr. Hamzah, who works as a manager in the aviation industry.

Responding to questions from CNA, a spokesperson for the Singapore Ministry of Trade and Industry said as of December 31, around 30,000 people had entered Singapore from Malaysia via the land VTL.

On the other hand, 30,489 travelers entered Singapore from Malaysia under the air VTL as of December 31 at 11:59 p.m., Margaret Tan, director of the Singapore Civil Aviation Authority, told CNA ( CAAS) (regulation of airport operations and aviation safety).

Travelers included 14,356 Singaporean citizens and permanent residents of Singapore and 14,036 vaccinated travel pass holders, of which 10,081 are short-term visitors and 3,955 are long-term pass holders. There were 2,097 children aged 12 and under, Ms. Tan said.

When asked how many travelers entering Singapore via the VTL with Malaysia tested positive for COVID-19 at points of entry, Singapore’s health ministry told CNA there was had 42 cases imported from November 29 to December 31.

Of those, 26 cases were detected during on-arrival testing and the rest were subsequently detected through Singapore’s enhanced testing regime, the ministry said. Of those 42 cases, four people from Malaysia were later found to be infected with the Omicron variant, he also said.

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