Vaccinations and Asking the Obvious Question - To Travel or Not?
Global vaccinations have been well underway for the past 6 months, surely international travel should have jumpstarted by now? If you have been keeping up with recent news, there has been mixed news on travelling in the APAC region.
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In the past week alone, the Trans-Tasman bubble has been reinstated after pausing earlier due to confirmed community cases in the region. In the South Asian region however, the dire situation has left a grim check on reality as COVID-19 cases climbed exponentially and left many scrambling in search of hospital beds and oxygen. The second wave of infections has hit India hard.
Just last week, Hong Kong and Singapore announced the revival of the shelved travel bubble plan -- “supposedly” starting on May 26th. This may soon be postponed again because Singapore has announced a regress into Phase 2 of their Safety Measure Management. Travellers who have just returned from high-risk countries are to be quarantined for 21 days instead of 14 days. This was due to a boom in new cluster formations and to contain the community cases in these clusters.
In Hong Kong, variant strains that are more contagious have been detected. Since then, various neighbourhoods in Hong Kong have also been ordered to go into quarantine as the government attempts to crack down on the transmission of the mutated strains. Despite the dismal situations on both ends, there was no definitive dismissal of the bilateral travel bubble although the governments are currently reviewing the plan.
The Role of Vaccines
While it was already made known that the efficacy of the vaccines is not 100%, a positive take away from the flurry of negative news in the past week has shown us why we should still get vaccinated.
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Vaccines have been proved that it protects against new COVID variants
The law of evolution applies to the virus as well, as it tries its best to wreak havoc and disrupt lives. The mutated strains are not only more contagious, but they are more lethal as well. While there has been evidence proving that the vaccine may not be entirely effective against new strains, a reduction in an immune response does not necessarily mean that the vaccine will not offer protection.
Vaccines have been known to prevent severe disease in COVID-19 patients. As evident in Singapore when comparing the conditions of vaccinated people who were tested positive for virus variants to those who were only partially vaccinated or not at all, patients who received full doses of vaccine tend to be asymptomatic or display mild symptoms only. The vaccine prevents the full symptoms from flaring up and allows the body to produce antibodies to keep the virus in check.
To Travel or Not to Travel?
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That is the question. It seems like the progress to jumpstart travelling always goes one step forward and two steps back. Here are 5 guidelines to follow:
1. For personal safety, it is best to get vaccinated before travelling
2. Research on restrictions of countries you are visiting
You do not want to visit a country where its attractions are closed because of COVID restrictions
3. Choose countries that have adequate safety measures in place
Countries that practices mandatory mask-wearing and robust contact tracing protocols can give you the confidence to travel
4. Search for hotels that practice good sanitisation procedures
5. Flexible Booking Horizon
As mentioned above, many travel bubbles are still tentative, ensure that you have enough flexibility within your booking horizon. This includes getting refunds from bookings that were already made.