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Explainer: VTL scheme — what happens if you test positive for Covid-19 while abroad? Can recovered patients travel?

SINGAPORE — With the extension of the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) scheme to nine more countries in addition to Germany and Brunei, Singaporeans can now travel to these countries and return without undergoing quarantine.


  • Once a person has tested positive for Covid-19, most countries under the vaccinated travel lane require a person to self-isolate for 10 days
  • The traveller would also have to pay for the extended length of stay at most places
  • While some countries allow close contacts to continue on with their itinerary if their test result comes back negative, others require them to quarantine themselves
  • Those who have recovered from Covid-19 can travel to France and Spain as no negative swab test is required
  • But for the United States and United Kingdom, recovered patients will not be able to enter if their Covid-19 swab test comes back positive due to viral fragments



SINGAPORE — With the extension of the vaccinated travel lane (VTL) scheme to nine more countries in addition to Germany and Brunei, Singaporeans can now travel to these countries and return without undergoing quarantine.

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.

But what happens if one falls sick or tests positive for Covid-19 while overseas?

These are the next steps travellers from Singapore should follow in some of these countries, in accordance with the health and border requirements of each destination.


According to the UK government’s website, fully vaccinated travellers from Singapore need to book and pay for a Covid-19 swab test, which has to be taken before the end of their second day in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Those arriving from Oct 24 can take a cheaper lateral flow test, instead of a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

They also have to complete a passenger locator form 48 hours before arriving in the UK.

According to Gov.UK, these are the steps to take if a person falls ill or tests positive for Covid-19:

  1. Stay at home and self-isolate immediately if symptoms develop
  2. Arrange for a Covid-19 swab test online or by calling 119
  3. If the test comes back positive, the person must self-isolate for 10 days
  4. The isolation period begins immediately from when the symptoms started, or from when the test was taken if asymptomatic
  5. Return to normal routine and stop self-isolating after 10 full days if symptoms are gone or if the person is only experiencing a cough or loss of smell
  6. If a person is still having high temperature, continue self-isolating and seek medical advice

Close contacts are not required to self-isolate if they are fully vaccinated, or under 18 years and six months old if unvaccinated.

TODAY has sent queries to the British High Commission in Singapore to confirm whether these Covid-19 protocols apply to fully vaccinated travellers from Singapore.


According to the website of the Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Singapore, all fully vaccinated travellers need to submit a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours before departure.

They also need to take another on-arrival PCR test after arriving in South Korea. Those staying for more than eight days would have to take another PCR test on the sixth or seventh day after arriving.

According to South Korea’s Ministry of Health and Welfare website, these are the steps to take if a person falls ill or tests positive for Covid-19:

  1. Self-isolate immediately and contact the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency hotline at 1339

  2. There are screening stations set up in South Korea where a person can get tested

  3. Travellers who test positive for Covid-19 are transferred to a hospital or residential treatment centres depending on level of severity

  4. For those with symptoms, they are only released if they stop developing a fever without medication and two PCR tests spaced out over 24 hours must come back negative

  5. For asymptomatic patients, they have to take a PCR test on the seventh day. If that comes back positive, they have to take another PCR test on the 14th day. If this comes back negative, a doctor will decide a date for them to take two PCR tests at a 24-hour interval and quarantine will only be lifted if both tests come back negative

  6. South Korea’s government will cover costs related to tests, the use of isolation facilities and treatment

Close contacts of the infected person would have to isolate themselves for 14 days from the last time they were exposed to the patient.

TODAY has sent queries to the South Korea embassy in Singapore to confirm whether these Covid-19 protocols apply to fully vaccinated travellers from the city-state. However, a representative said that administrative details for the VTL are not finalised yet.


According to the Embassy of France in Singapore, fully vaccinated travellers here must present proof of their vaccination status as well as a sworn statement attesting that they do not have Covid-19 symptoms or had contact with a confirmed case before departing.

Travellers from Singapore do not need to undergo any swab test after arriving in France.

They also can obtain a Sanitary Pass, through France’s contact tracing mobile application called TousAntiCovid, which is required for domestic flights or long-distance trains. The pass allows them to convert their Singapore vaccination certificate into a European Union Digital Covid Vaccination Certificate.

Otherwise, travellers can do a PCR or antigen rapid test (ART) at a pharmacy, which grants them a Sanitary Pass that is valid for 72 hours.

A physical version of a converted vaccination certificate and a negative PCR test result taken in France can also be used.

These are the steps to take if a person falls ill or tests positive for Covid-19 while in France:

  1. Tourists should self-isolate at a hotel room or wherever they are staying if they display Covid-19 symptoms and contact a local doctor by phone

  2. There is a standard-rate helpline at 09 72 72 99 09 which helps people find a nearby general practitioner

  3. The doctor will carry out a brief triage of symptoms and ask the suspected patient to book an appointment for a Covid-19 test

  4. The suspected patient then takes a PCR test or ART at one of the test centres found in most towns and cities across France

  5. After they take the test, they should remain in self-isolation until test results come through

  6. If positive, they need to self-isolate for 10 days from the date of first symptoms. If they still have a temperature at the end of 10 days, they need to continue to self-isolate for another 48 hours

  7. If they are positive but have no symptoms, they have to self-isolate for 10 days from the time they took the test

  8. If their symptoms worsen, they can phone emergency services at 15 on a French mobile or 112 from a non-French mobile

  9. If travellers need to prolong their stay due to the 10-day-isolation, this is done at their own expense

Once one person has been tested positive, all travellers within the group will be considered contact cases and should contact a testing centre to make an appointment to get swabbed, said the Embassy of France in Singapore.

If the test is negative, self-isolation is no longer required and they may continue their itinerary.


According to Italy’s tourism board, fully vaccinated travellers from Singapore have to:

  1. Present proof of their vaccination

  2. Fill in a passenger locator form

  3. Present a negative Covid-19 swab test result taken within 72 hours before arriving in Italy

The Embassy of Italy in Singapore has confirmed that these are the steps to take if a person falls ill or tests positive for Covid-19 while in Italy:

  1. Contact the local area’s health authority if a person suspects that he has Covid-19

  2. The authorities will help to arrange an emergency test. Do not go to a medical centre or pharmacy in the meantime

  3. The person must isolate for 10 days at an accommodation if tested positive for Covid-19

  4. If symptomatic, the person needs to be without symptoms for at least the last three days before a Covid-19 swab test is performed

  5. Infected travellers may also isolate at a hotel if it agrees to host the person during the quarantine period

  6. If a traveller is unable to find a suitable accommodation, local authorities may require the person to stay at a facility of their choosing for the required isolation period, which they call a “Covid hotel”

  7. This will be at the traveller’s own expense

  8. If the infected traveller needs hospitalisation assistance, the person will have to bear the related costs


Close contacts of the confirmed case will not be required to quarantine if their Covid-19 swab test results come back negative.


According to Spain’s official tourism website, all fully vaccinated travellers have to fill in a health control form, which will generate a Quick Response (QR) code that they have to present when boarding the flight and after arriving in Spain.

Those from Singapore are not required to undergo any swab tests when arriving.

These are the steps to take if a person falls ill or tests positive for Covid-19 while in Spain:

  1. Self-isolate in his accommodation and avoid physical contact with other people

  2. Contact the health authorities of the region he is staying in, and based on their evaluation of the symptoms, they will ascertain whether the person in question has to take a swab test

  3. If feeling seriously ill, call 112

  4. If the test comes back positive, the person has to quarantine at an accommodation for 10 days and bear the costs himself


Close contacts of a confirmed case should quarantine themselves for 10 days, according to the Embassy of Spain in Singapore.


Covid-19 patients can still test positive for the disease after they have recovered as the tests may be picking up fragments of the coronavirus even though they are no longer infectious.

As France and Spain do not require negative Covid-19 swab tests as a requirement to enter, Singapore residents who have recovered from the disease can enter these two countries.

However, the British High Commission Singapore said that proof of recovery is not recognised in place of a swab test. 

Other embassies requiring a negative pre-departure or on-arrival test have not responded to whether the discharge memo from Singapore’s Ministry of Health would be recognised to allow entry, if a traveller’s test comes back positive.

For the US, all travellers are required to present a negative Covid-19 test regardless of their vaccination or antibody status taken 72 hours prior to departure.

That’s according to a representative from Brand USA, a public and private agency that promotes travelling to the US.

This test can be either a PCR test or antigen lateral flow test.

This means that a Singapore resident who has recovered from Covid-19 will not be allowed to enter the US if the test comes back positive even if he has MOH’s discharge memo.

Queries on US’ Covid-19 protocols have not been answered yet.

Travellers from Singapore should always check with the travel agency they are touring with or the embassy of the country they are travelling to for the most updated information.

Related topics

Covid-19 coronavirus vaccinated travel lane travel vaccination

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