Forum: Stricter Covid-19 measures needed for inbound passengers at airport

Singapore has been able to keep the number of Covid-19 community cases to near-zero lately. This is owing to our front-line warriors who have been working tirelessly since the onset of the pandemic.

However, this progress should never lull us into believing that we are doing better than our neighbours.

The population size and demographics of our city-state are different from those of our neighbours.

With the introduction of mass immunisation, my fear is that we may let our guard down out of a sense of misguided confidence that we have the virus situation well under control.

My recent experience on arriving at Changi Airport confirmed this fear.

Upon arrival at the airport three weeks ago, I was disappointed with the lack of segregation between passengers from different incoming flights, and worried about potential contact with outbound passengers.

Much to my dismay, inbound passengers were allowed to roam freely upon landing.

One was free to hang around in the terminal between departure gates for as long as one wanted, rather than being sent straight for swab testing.

Considering the dozens of daily imported cases, I am perplexed to see that incoming passengers are allowed to join the shortest queue for immigration clearance, whenever they like.

I observed similar unregulated processes at the baggage claim area, long before passengers were funnelled to swab stations.

Imagine the many opportunities for infection, from the moment at-risk passengers touch down at the airport.

The possible intermingling of passengers from different flights, and having swab stations as the last port of call, are another cause for concern.

As a result of this system, or rather the lack of it, I am not sure if the transport that ferried me to the dedicated facility for me to serve my stay-home notice catered only to fellow passengers on my flight, or if it included others.

I shudder to think of how effective contact tracing would be if any one of us were found infected after arrival.

To defeat Covid-19, we must reassess the systems in place and rectify all potential loopholes before a new wave of cases appears.

Ong Cheng Hin