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About 9,000 to be tested as Changi Airport steps up COVID-19 precautionary measures

About 9,000 to be tested as Changi Airport steps up COVID-19 precautionary measures

People wearing protective face masks at Changi Airport Terminal 3 (Photo: Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: All workers in Changi Airport’s operating terminals will be tested for COVID-19 in a special testing operation from Sunday (May 9), said the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Changi Airport Group (CAG).

About 9,000 workers from Terminal 1, Terminal 3 and Jewel Changi Airport will undergo these tests. Terminal 2 is not operating.

In a press release on Sunday night, CAAS and CAG said that "the occurrence of eight COVID-19 cases at Changi Airport over the last 10 days is worrying". 

"Whilst 92 per cent of frontline aviation workers have been vaccinated, the risk of infection remains."

READ: New COVID-19 cluster linked to cleaner at Changi Airport

READ: Another cleaner, aviation officer among 3 more workers at Changi Airport to test positive for COVID-19

In addition, all vaccinated frontline airport workers who have earlier been tested every 28 days, will now be tested every 14 days as part of rostered routine testing.

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung said in a Facebook post on Sunday night that 12 frontline workers at Singapore's borders have been infected, including the eight from the airport and four at Singapore's seaport.

"A lot is at stake if our seaport and airport cannot function. One clear implication is our supply lines, and future survival of Changi Airport. We need to protect our frontliners in order to protect the rest of Singapore," he wrote.

Besides stepping up testing, there will be increased segregation of higher-risk workers who are exposed to seafarers or travellers and those who are not. There will also be a push for more to be vaccinated.

"Over 95 per cent (43,100) of higher-risk workers have received vaccinations. There is strong evidence to show that vaccinated individuals are less likely to be infected, and experience severe symptoms," Mr Ong said. 

"But recent infections have shown that non-frontline workers can also be at risk. So we will push to vaccinate the rest of the medically eligible workers."

SAFETY TIMEOUT FOR CLEANING CONTRACTOR

The main cleaning contractor for Changi Airport Terminal 3 will also be placed on a "safety time-out" for 14 days from Monday after four COVID-19 cases were found among its cleaners, said CAAS and CAG.

They added that the contractor needs to conduct a full safety review, complete refresher training for their cleaners, and reinforce segregation at work for their cleaners to minimise mixing. 

READ: 10 community cases among 28 new COVID-19 infections in Singapore

The company will resume cleaning of Terminal 3’s public areas when all these requirements have been met and all its staff members have tested negative for COVID-19, said CAAS and CAG.

The airport’s main security service provider will also be stepping up its safe management measures after the detection of two COVID-19 cases among its airport staff members. 

It is reinforcing training and pre-operations briefings for its frontline staff workers at the airport, for example, to emphasise the correct donning and doffing procedures for personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety measures in the airport, said the media release.

TERMINAL 3 BASEMENT 2 TO CLOSE

From Monday, Basement 2 of Changi Airport Terminal 3 will be temporarily closed to the public while the Health Ministry conducts epidemiological investigations.

This is because several of the COVID-19 cases had visited outlets there, authorities said.

READ: Japanese restaurants at Tampines Mall, Parkway Parade and Causeway Point KFC among places visited by COVID-19 cases

Other than deep cleaning, workers in these food and beverage and retail outlets also need to be tested negative for COVID-19 before the outlets are allowed to reopen. 

When reopened, they can only provide take-aways to airport staff members. Dining-in will only be allowed in special allocated areas for airport workers who are cannot eat their meals in their place of work.

Rental rebates will be provided to affected tenants, said CAAS and CAG.

"These additional precautionary measures are on top of the existing safe management measures in the airport, which will continue to be enforced strictly." 

For example, all workers are required to use the appropriate PPE required for their jobs and work areas. In particular, those who come into close contact with inbound travellers from high-risk places are required to don full PPE.

The frequency of disinfection and cleaning at the airport has also been increased.

"We will review these measures constantly, to defend and secure our borders," said Mr Ong.

FairPrice Group said early Monday morning it will close its outlets at the Basement 2 level, including FairPrice Finest, Unity and Kopitiam.

"FairPrice Group apologises for any inconvenience caused and would like to assure the community that it is sparing no effort to protect its staff and customers so that they can continue to work and shop in a safe and healthy environment," the company said.

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Source: CNA/hm(ta)

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