SINGAPORE, Oct 19 — All healthcare workers can apply for overseas leave with immediate effect, spelling an end to a ban on overseas travel that had been imposed by MOH Holdings (MOHH) due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Healthcare workers can apply for leave to travel to countries under the recently implemented vaccinated travel lane, said MOHH, which is the holding company of Singapore’s public healthcare clusters, in a circular to employees dated Tuesday (Oct 19) and seen by TODAY.

The circular stated that the Ministry of Health (MOH) had reviewed the overseas travel guidelines for healthcare workers to align it with the recent government announcement on the streamlined protocols and the vaccinated travel lane.

“With immediate effect, MOH will lift the suspension on overseas leave applications for all healthcare workers,” read the circular.

All overseas travel will still be subject to MOH’s prevailing travel advisory, as well as the national travel health control measures found on the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority website.

On Oct 9, the authorities announced that the vaccinated travel lane scheme will be extended to nine more countries, after its successful implementation with Brunei and Germany. Travellers going between Singapore and such countries need not serve a quarantine order or stay-home notice.

Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States will be part of this arrangement from Oct 19, while South Korea will be under the scheme from Nov 15.

TODAY has sought comment from the MOH, as well as the various private hospitals.

Dr Peng Chung Mien, the chief executive officer of Farrer Park Hospital, said the hospital has already implemented the latest MOH guidelines to remove all additional testing requirements and restrictions on healthcare workers resuming work duties after returning from overseas travel.

Nevertheless, not all healthcare workers were optimistic about being able to take advantage of Tuesday’s announcement.

One 27-year-old doctor, who declined to be named, noted the high number of Covid-19 cases being reported in Singapore each day. On Monday, 2,553 new infections were reported.

“At the end of the day, all leave applications are subject to approval by your bosses, and this subject to the manpower situation at hand. With the (daily infection) cases like this, it will be very hard to get approval,” he said. — TODAY