Travel bubbles are currently a viable solution to revive economies around the world disrupted by COVID-19. It is understandable that lately it has been a hot topic to see that Malaysians have been cooperating for over a year.
The concept is basically a partnership between two or more countries that will allow people to travel freely through certain areas without having to go through a quarantine period on arrival.
Of course, it’s not as reckless as just opening borders. Countries that use travel bubbles have successfully vaccinated a large population, contained the infection, or have strict qualifications for those who want to cross borders for commercial purposes.
Despite the benefits that travel bubbles could bring to renew the tourism industry both locally and globally, it is still not prudent to do so in the interests of public health and safety. Below I will explain why.
Discrimination against those who cannot be vaccinated
Conversations about the travel bubble provide the outline of a vaccine passport, also known as a vaccine bubble. It is essentially a travel bubble with the added requirement to vaccinate against COVID-19 effectively, which grants free movement to travelers.
A vaccine bubble can also mean a place where everyone present has been vaccinated against coronavirus. In the event that Hong Kong, places officially designated as vaccine bubbles include restaurants, bars, karaoke rooms and other public places.
For participating sites, social distancing measures can be relaxed. Companies will also be allowed extended operating hours.
In fact, 69% of Malaysians they were very much in favor of having a vaccine passport to enter shops and offices, while 82% of them want to be present to enter large public premises.
But this highlights the possible issue of discrimination against people who cannot be vaccinated. I do not defend anti-vaxxers who refuse to inoculate themselves due to misinformation or personal beliefs, but of those who he can not be vaccinated for health problems.
Some of these groups they include those who are immunocompromised, have blood problems, or have severe allergies to vaccinations or medications. Having physical illness is not a choice, nor is it a person’s own fault (in certain cases, such as hereditary illnesses or accidents).
Yes, they are also part of the high-risk group at risk for serious illness if infected with COVID-19. But if a vaccine passport is required to enter stores, imagine an unfortunate situation where someone can’t get in to get basic necessities just because they haven’t been able to get the shot.
If a healthcare professional determines that these patients are not eligible for COVID-19 vaccines, they should at least be provided with a sheet accrediting their exemption. In turn, this official letter should give them permission to enter places that require a vaccine passport.
Increases the diffusion of COVID-19 and its variants
A travel bubble may seem safe if all goes according to plan, but COVID-19 poses other problems: silent (asymptomatic) carriers and the mutant virus. Even if an unvaccinated individual tested negative before and after their flight abroad, they may be a silent carrier.
Without a quarantine period, unknowingly, they could spread the virus to all the places they visit, to all the people they meet. It can lead to a new presentation of cases in this country if not treated with care.
And, geographical separation is what usually causes genetically different variants. That’s why doctors recommend getting a flu shot every year, as viruses change often. These mutations can be more severe and transmissible, and some vaccines may not prevent them.
Hong Kong and Singapore have already delayed their travel bubble at least twice now, with cases on the road rising once again. The Singapore authorities have also detected some variants a both local and imported infections, such as strain B.1.617 which was first identified in India and is believed to be more transmissible.
If people start traveling back and forth, they could easily be exposed to the disease and its variants, regardless of the country they visit.
Malaysians are not disciplined enough
It is understandable that people want to leave their home with the possibility of having it for several reasons: being sick of WFH, lack of social life, boredom and the list goes on.
That’s why we continue to see how fines are imposed, because we’ve seen people challenge the restrictions. (Now, the facts that our government cannot properly decide on clear PCOS and enjoy implementing them safely are a completely different argument that we may find at another time.)
Businesses were allowed to operate during the second and third MCOs of 2021, but citizens are still encouraged to stay home unless they are required to go out to look for the basics needed. That said, however, digital technology has already allowed us to access many needs from our couch, whether it’s to get groceries, deliver items somewhere, and even do a health check, to name a few.
I have the perspective that the MCO may be the only way to curb the spread of COVID-19 in our country. This is worth nothing either 80% of infections They actually come from sporadic cases in the community, not from clusters, according to Dr. Noor Hisham, which is a worrying trend.
Once we were a united nation against the pandemic and we seemed to comply well when the MCO was introduced. But since restrictions on domestic travel were allowed for a short period of time late last year, we have been flaunting the basic SOPs our country has established.
If we can’t even fulfill ourselves when we leave home, who will say that our behavior and attitudes will improve as we travel abroad? For Malaysia to show that we can be part of the travel bubble of any country, we should first show that we can do it nationally without causing another upsurge in cases.
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But whether there are travel bubbles or not, one thing is for sure: it is extremely crucial that those of us who are able to be vaccinated do so when the opportunity arises, as it is the only way to achieve herd immunity. .
Work is underway to accelerate our nation ‘s immunization program, and the latest initiative is for companies to register buy the Sinovac vaccine for its employees through SELangkah.
We should not hesitate because of the preferences for a specific vaccine, as there is no certainty that you can purchase it as soon as possible. Currently, the best vaccine you can get is the one you can get first, and it is better to get vaccinated than not to be protected at all costs.
- You can read more articles related to COVID-19 that we have written here.
Featured Image Credit: Airports in Malaysia