SINGAPORE: The Singapore Airlines cabin crew member who initially tested negative for COVID-19 had sought medical attention for a fever before testing positive for the disease a few days later, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore said on Sunday (Jan 24).
The 29-year-old woman, known as Case 59529, had travelled to the United Kingdom for work between Jan 12 and 13, the Ministry of Health (MOH) reported on Friday.
CAAS said the crew member landed in Singapore from London on Jan 14 and took a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on arrival which returned negative results.
On Jan 17, she developed a fever and went to see a general practitioner who gave her a five-day medical leave. This was when she left home, said CAAS.
“As such, she was not able to travel to the swabbing centre for a COVID-19 PCR test. While at home, she stayed in her room," said CAAS.
"When we discovered that she had not attended her test on the third day, and her condition, we informed the Ministry of Health and she was conveyed to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases.”
MOH previously said that the woman, an Indian national work pass holder, developed loss of smell on Jan 20 and was tested for COVID-19 the next day. Her result came back positive for COVID-19 infection on Jan 22.
“She had mostly stayed at home from Jan 14 until she was conveyed to the hospital on Jan 22,” said the health ministry.
From Dec 30, air crew members returning from layovers at high risk countries are required to self-isolate until they receive all negative results from their series of COVID-19 PCR tests.
They are required to undergo a PCR test on three occasions - upon arrival in Singapore, and on the third and seventh day following their return.
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CABIN CREW MEMBER ADHERED TO SELF-ISOLATION PROTOCOLS: SIA
An SIA spokesperson on Saturday said the woman was unable to take her COVID-19 swab test on the third and seventh day as she was on medical leave. She developed further symptoms on Jan 21 and a swab test was "immediately arranged".
"Investigations have shown that the cabin crew had adhered to the self-isolation protocols required after the return of her flight on Jan 14.
"As per the guidelines for self-isolation, the cabin crew minimised contact with the community by staying at home and only leaving the home for essential needs or to seek medical attention."
CAAS said that self-isolating air crew members are allowed to leave their homes for short periods for essential purposes, during which they are to minimise time spent in public places.
“We should note that air crew who fly to high risk regions like the United Kingdom, are doing a service for Singapore. This is because there are still Singaporeans wanting to return home, and our crew ensure that essential travel between Singapore and key cities in the world continue.
"Our national carrier Singapore Airlines continues to undertake the responsibility, even though passenger volume is very low,” said CAAS.