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  • Writer's pictureTini Ismail

Travelling through Pandemic (Part 1)

Flying will never be the same again.

When Singapore first announced the Vaccinated Travel Lanes (VTL) some time back in October 2021 (I think), many were excited to travel again. This means, Singaporeans were no longer bounded within this tiny island. I mean, how far can I go in Singapore during this pandemic? At most, travel to Sentosa Island or Kusu Island or Jurong Island? Hahaha..

What is Vaccinated Travel Lane?

Before Vaccinated Travel Lane or VTL was introduced, any travellers including returning Singapore citizens entering Singapore are required to be quarantined at a designated Quarantine Facility for 14 days. This is quite interesting as Singaporeans were not allowed to travel out of Singapore (back then) unless your job requires you to travel. No non-essential travel allowed.

Vaccinated Travel Lane is a quarantine-free travel only open to fully vaccinated travellers. This means travellers are not required to be quarantined upon arrival to the country of designation and upon returning home. Travellers are, however, required to show their vaccination records upon checking-in. One can only travel after 14 days of receiving the second dose. Depending on where you are travelling, some countries may require you to show a negative pre-departure swab test and some countries may require you to quarantine yourself for 7 days upon arrival despite VTL. So, do check the requirements of the country you are planning to visit.

I guess by the time you read this, Singapore may have frozen all VTLs due to the emergence of Omicron....sounds like a character in the childhood cartoon, "Transformers" hehehe...

VTL opens to Finland and Sweden

It was one of my teammates who sent a message on the D5 chat group on WhatApp and tagged me about this. I couldn't believe it! I thought it was a hoax at first until I checked out the news on CNA. It was indeed true. Singapore was extending VTL to Finland and Sweden from 29 November 2020 onwards. Without much thought, I booked my flight almost immediately.

Side track: Teammates? D5? During the pandemic, I have been working as a frontline with Health Promotion Board (HPB) in Singapore. I started as a Swab Assistant before moving forward as a Swabber. It was not long after my 3rd deployment I was warded to D5, one of the many roving teams where we go around Singapore to provide swabbing service to foreign workers either at their dormitory or worksites and sometimes, with any luck, we are deployed to hotels to provide swabbing service to travellers visiting Singapore and returning Singapore citizens.

Approved Vaccines in Sweden

I have always keep myself in touch with the latest news in Sweden listening to Sveriges Radio and Radio Sweden på Lätt Svenska on Spotify and of course, following a couple of Swedish travel accounts on Instagram.

It was one of the posts by one of these travel accounts (I can't remember which one now) that sort of helped me sorted out my return plans to Sweden. Indeed, there is a list of Approved vaccines in Sweden. I was elated when Sinopharm is listed as one of the approved vaccines recognised in Sweden. I chose Sinopharm because first of all, it is a non-mRNA vaccine and it is developed traditionally as how other vaccines prior to Covid-19 were made. Okay, let me be straight about this: It doesn't matter which vaccines you choose, it is YOUR decision. Use what you think it's good for you.

Pre-departure Swab Test

This was a bit tricky and has caused me stress as well as a big hole in my pocket.

Even though initially, I am not required to show a negative result on my PCR test, I planned and booked an appointment to get it done anyways. Sweden had imposed, initially, a 72-hour negative PCR test prior departure. So, I was glad I had booked a 48-hour appointment before my departure. Then came the inevitable. One day before my departure, Sweden changed its regulations. Instead of a 72-hour pre-departure PCR test, all travellers are required to show a negative swab test result within 48-hour before departure. This came after I had my swab test done. "Within". Hmm...a term which can be interpreted in may ways. Anything can happen and I was not willing to take that chance. I waited 2 years to return home. To save myself from unnecessary stress at the borders, I booked another swab test 24 hours (where I will receive my result and memo at midnight) before departure.

This was no ordinary PCR swab test. This test package includes a travel memo which is required and MUST be recognised by the EU Commission.

I had both my pre-departure tests done at SwabStation.SG. Efficient. Fast and reliable.

So, the next time VTL is opened again, get your swab test done here.

Visit these links for more information about travelling through pandemic:

ICA Safe Travel via Air

Travelling to Schengen Area

Pre-Departure Swab Test

Ministry Of Health (Singapore)

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