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Singapore

Firm to step up measures after COVID-19 case involving employee who works at Changi Airport

The 43-year-old Singaporean, who issues electronic monitoring devices to incoming travellers on stay-home notice, was reported as a community case on Sunday.

Firm to step up measures after COVID-19 case involving employee who works at Changi Airport

Airport staff wearing protective face masks walk along the transit hall of Changi Airport Terminal 1. (Photo: Calvin Oh)

SINGAPORE: A company that manages the deployment of some taggers, ushers and administrators at Changi Airport will increase the frequency of temperature taking and disinfecting counters after one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19. 

The 43-year-old Singaporean, who was the country's sole community case reported on Sunday (Feb 7), is employed by BGC Group and works at Changi Airport Terminals 1 and 3.

His job involves issuing electronic monitoring devices to people who will be serving stay-home notice outside dedicated facilities and helping them to put on these devices. While on duty, he wears a surgical mask, face shield and gloves, said the Ministry of Health (MOH).

READ: Singaporean who issues stay-home notice tracking devices at Changi Airport among 24 new COVID-19 cases in Singapore

In response to CNA’s queries, BGC Group said on Monday that the infection was detected during a routine, bi-weekly swab, and that he had tested negative in the prior round of testing.

“BGC Group will continue to closely monitor the health of 12 negatively-tested employees who have been in contact with our affected employee,” said the firm. 

“We are treating this unfortunate first incident very seriously and BGC Group will be increasing the frequency of temperature taking to a three-hourly reporting. Our frequency of disinfecting our counters will also be strictly stepped up so to ensure an even safer environment for all employees under our care.”

MOH said on Sunday that all the man’s identified close contacts, including his family members and co-workers, have been isolated and placed on quarantine. They will be tested at the start and end of their quarantine period.

Since the man's positive test on Feb 5, BGC Group has reviewed its healthcare and safety standard operating procedures and said there were “no breaches”.

The HR company has about 30 people who are actively deployed in shifts at the airport currently. It said its employees who are required to be in close contact with incoming passengers are equipped with face shields, masks and gloves.

“Given that the nature of the job involves potential contact with imported cases, our employees understand the risk factors involved and have to strictly adhere to frequent disinfecting schedules and daily temperature reporting. We clean and disinfect our equipment before and after every passenger is tagged,” said BGC Group.

It added that it is awaiting its vaccination schedule as Singapore progressively rolls out doses to more frontliners, including airport staff.

READ: 37,000 frontline aviation, maritime workers to be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccine

The HR firm's Changi Airport project has been running since August last year. The 43-year-old confirmed case has been with the company for more than four months, it added.

Singapore introduced electronic monitoring devices in August last year for all incoming travellers serving their stay-home notice outside of dedicated facilities. Those aged 12 and below are exempted from this requirement.

Travellers serving stay-home notice outside of dedicated facilities must wear a wristband device, install an app on their phones and plug the gateway device into a socket in their homes. (Photo: Gwyneth Teo)

These individuals are issued with the device at the checkpoints after immigration clearance.

They are required to activate the electronic monitoring device upon reaching their place of residence. If the device is not activated as required, the authorities will follow up to determine their location and assist to resolve any technical difficulties, or take enforcement action, as the case may be.

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Source: CNA/mi(gs)

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