Coronavirus outbreak

Infected passenger flew on SIA from Milan to S'pore

Woman then took an Air New Zealand flight, which also carried SIA passengers, to Auckland

The New Zealand woman travelled on a Singapore Airlines flight from Milan to Singapore on Feb 24, 2020.
The New Zealand woman travelled on a Singapore Airlines flight from Milan to Singapore on Feb 24, 2020.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Singapore Airlines (SIA) has asked the pilots and cabin crew of a Milan-Singapore flight to take leave of absence and monitor their health closely after a passenger later tested positive for the coronavirus.

The woman landed at Changi Airport, then left for Auckland on Feb 25 on Air New Zealand flight NZ283 - a code-share service with SIA - which was also carrying SIA passengers, The Straits Times found out.

Air New Zealand said the woman then travelled to Palmerston North, a city in New Zealand, on Flight NZ5103 on Monday, and returned to Auckland on Flight NZ8114 the same day.

An SIA spokesman said last night: "Singapore Airlines has been informed that a passenger who is confirmed to have Covid-19 travelled on our flight from Milan to Singapore on Feb 24. We are assisting the relevant authorities to identify the passengers and crew who were on board the flight."

Crew who were on the aircraft have been told to go on a leave of absence and to closely monitor their health, the spokesman added.

New Zealand media said the patient, a local woman in her 30s, was under self-isolation at home with clinical support. She reportedly developed symptoms once she was back in New Zealand.

Air NZ said it was working with the New Zealand authorities to identify and contact passengers who had travelled on the Singapore service and the two regional flights.

A spokesman for Singapore's Ministry of Health (MOH) said: "We are working closely with the New Zealand Ministry of Health and the respective airlines to conduct contact tracing for the crew and flight passengers who may have had contact with the confirmed case of Covid-19 while the case was infectious."

Details were not available on the number of people who had come into contact with the patient, who had transited at Changi Airport after returning from northern Italy, or whether any of these contacts were Singaporean or Singapore residents.

Air NZ chief medical officer Ben Johnston said: "Our aircraft already underwent a thorough cleaning process, which includes cleaning surfaces such as tray tables and in-flight entertainment screens with a disinfectant that kills viruses.

"We also remove all headsets, headrest covers, pillow covers and blankets after every international flight. Domestic and regional services' surfaces and bathrooms are wiped with disinfectant spray.

"The three aircraft this customer flew on will now also undergo a deep clean."

Singapore has 112 coronavirus cases with no deaths. New Zealand has two confirmed cases, including the Air NZ one.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 05, 2020, with the headline 'Infected passenger flew on SIA from Milan to S'pore'. Subscribe