SINGAPORE: Singapore Airlines (SIA) has instructed the crew members who worked on a Milan-Singapore flight last week to go on a leave of absence, after a passenger tested postive for the coronavirus.
The passenger had travelled from Milan to Singapore on flight SQ355 on Feb 24, SIA said in response to queries from CNA on Thursday (Mar 5). The passenger subsequently flew to New Zealand.
"Singapore Airlines has been informed that a passenger who subsequently tested positive for COVID-19 travelled on SQ355 from Milan to Singapore on Feb 24," said an SIA spokesperson.
“We are assisting the relevant authorities in Singapore and New Zealand to identify the passengers and crew who were on board the flight,” said the spokesperson.
SIA said it asked the crew on board the flight to go on a leave of absence "as a precautionary measure" and to closely monitor their health.
“The health and safety of our passengers and crew is our top priority,” it said.
CNA reported earlier this month that SIA enhanced cleaning and disinfecting of its aircraft shortly after Chinese New Year.
Those measures include making changes to its in-flight services to reduce contact between passengers and crew, such as by replacing its in-flight magazines and using pre-packed wet towelettes instead of hot towels.
When on the ground, SIA flights are “thoroughly cleaned” and common surfaces such as seats and tray tables are wiped with disinfectant. The airline also changes out all headsets, headrest covers, pillow covers, bedsheets and blankets after every sector.
Fogging is done for flights from mainland China, where the virus is believed to have originated in the city of Wuhan.
SIA added on Thursday that rigorous disinfection and deep-cleaning is conducted when there is a confirmed case of COVID-19 on board its flights. This includes fogging the aircraft to disinfect it.
“This is on top of our existing rigorous cleaning procedures,” the spokesperson said.
On Wednesday, Air New Zealand confirmed that a passenger who had travelled on a Singapore to Auckland flight tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
The passenger left Singapore on flight NZ283 on Feb 25, before travelling from Auckland to Palmerston North on flight NZ5103 on Mar 2. The woman returned to Auckland the same day on flight NZ8114.