We are all keen to visit our loved ones back in Australia and New Zealand. Therefore, the recent talk about Singapore and Australia opening a travel bubble in the middle of the year is welcome news. We asked Dr Valerie Druon, from Osler Health International, to help explain what is currently required before stepping onto the airplane.
1. What is the current Pre-Departure Testing (PDT) process?
Travellers entering Australia and New Zealand are required to provide evidence of a negative Covid 19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) test result to the airline at the time of check-in at the departure point.
Travellers need to complete the Australian Travel Declaration 72 hours before departure to Australia.
You will need to check with the Australian High Commission for any other mandatory travel declarations, valid visas and probable permission requirement to enter Australian States and Territories.
2. How long before I fly to Australia/ New Zealand do I need to get the tests done?
The Covid-19 PCR test must be taken within 72 hours from the scheduled departure time.
3. How do I share my COVID-19 test results with authorities?
All departing travelers having their PCR Pre-Departure Testing (PDT) in Singapore will receive a digital health certificate. They then need to authenticate and endorse the digital test certificate via https://www.notarise.gov.sg before travel. This ensures that the result and certificate is issued and authenticated by the Ministry of Health (i.e. it is issued by an approved clinic/lab and has not been tampered with).
The notarised digital PDT certificate is then ready for airline check-in and immigration authorities. It sounds a little laborious – but the systems are in place to make this process smooth!
4. How is the COVID-19 test undertaken?
The Covid 19 PCR test is a nasopharyngeal swab test. A trained professional like a nurse or a doctor will take a swab sample usually from the nose and/or throat of the traveller.
5. What will a ‘safe travel bubble’ mean? Do we still need to do a PDT?
A safe travel bubble means that an agreement is in place with another country like Singapore to travel to Australia/NZ provided the traveller has not been in a COVID-19 outbreak location in the last 14 days. Although both Australia and Singapore are currently discussing the possibility of a safe travel bubble, a PDT will still be needed.
6. Do I still need to undertake a PDT if I am vaccinated?
Yes, you will still need a PDT even if you receive the full Covid -19 vaccination. This is because whilst there is evidence that the COVID-19 vaccines are effective in preventing symptomatic disease, the vaccinations are not 100% full proof and the extent of their ability in preventing transmission of the infection to others is still being studied.
7. Will children receive the COVID-19 vaccination?
To date, the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is recommended for people over the age of 16 years. The Moderna vaccine will be recommended for people over the age of 18 until further safety data becomes available for these subgroups.
8. Do children need to have a PDT? What about infants under 6 months?
For Australia, all travelers 5 years of age or older are required to have a PDT before departure from the foreign country (including Singapore). This means that infants under 6 months and children under 5 years of age will not require a PDT.
For New Zealand, children under 2 years of age (24 months) do not need to take a pre-departure test. Children over the age of 2 (24 months) will need evidence of a negative pre-departure test.
9. What safety measures would you recommend for the airport and plane?
Masks must be worn at all times at international airports and on flights. Safe distancing should be observed as much as possible especially when boarding aircrafts, within the plane, at immigration points and baggage claim areas. Avoid unnecessary movement during the flight and congregating at toilet points. Practice regular and frequent hand sanitising and hand washing with soap and water. Avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth particularly after contact with high traffic surfaces.
The information on the requirements to fly into New Zealand and Australia are fluid. This information is correct as of as of 24 March 2021 and may be subjected to change. Osler Health International is an appointed COVID-19 test clinic and can provide ‘Fit-to-Fly’ PDT certificates quickly and digitally to help get you and the family on the airplane.
Dr Valerie Druon is an Australian family GP based at Osler Health Star Vista.
T: 6339 2727 | www.osler-health.com