Coronavirus: Singapore

Infected stewardess did not serve any passengers on UAE flight

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung with the crew of Singapore Airlines Flight SQ956 yesterday. He said the stewardess on the Jan 30 flight to the United Arab Emirates, who tested positive for Covid-19, was serving business class, which had no passengers.
Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung with the crew of Singapore Airlines Flight SQ956 yesterday. He said the stewardess on the Jan 30 flight to the United Arab Emirates, who tested positive for Covid-19, was serving business class, which had no passengers. The crew members who sat with her on the return trip are not infected. ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

The Singapore Airlines (SIA) stewardess who tested positive for Covid-19 after a turnaround flight to the United Arab Emirates last month did not serve any passengers on both legs of the trip.

But the 41-year-old Singaporean came into contact with some cleaners during the stopover at Dubai International Airport, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, who gave more details of her case yesterday.

The stewardess on the Jan 30 flight was serving business class, which had no passengers, he said.

She did not disembark as there was no layover, and was a passenger for the return leg. She had sat with other crew members at the back of the plane in their own area, which had a dedicated toilet.

The crew members who sat with her are all right, Mr Ong added.

For operational and safety reasons, all flights need to have a minimum number of cabin crew members across all travel classes, regardless of the number of passengers on board the plane.

The Health Ministry has said it takes a few weeks to build up immunity against Covid-19 after completing vaccination.

The stewardess had returned to Singapore on Jan 31 and received her first vaccine jab on Feb 2.

She lost her sense of smell two days later but did not seek medical attention. Her case was eventually picked up during routine testing.

She was the fifth person on the flight to test positive for Covid-19.

Preliminary test results showed that all five had contracted the more infectious B117 strain.

On Singapore's aim to be a vaccine distribution hub, Mr Ong said there is currently a shortage in vaccine supply, as manufacturing has not been adequately ramped up.

But he expects this to be sorted out over the course of the year.

"It is the same thing as masks... It is only a matter of time that you start to have more production and distribution of vaccines, and certainly we have the ability, the cold chain and the coordination among different stakeholders... to allow us to play a role," he said.

On the inter-ministerial Singapore Green Plan 2030, Mr Ong said it had started several months ago, when various ministers met to brainstorm on how to promote sustainability and if targets could be pushed further.

"(We had) our own policies... But really, there is a lot of synergy," he said. He added that the Transport Ministry's new goal to build 60,000 electric vehicle charging points by 2030 - more than double its original target of 28,000 - is "very achievable". "If you take into account private premises fully... I think there can be even more."

Kok Yufeng

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 12, 2021, with the headline Infected stewardess did not serve any passengers on UAE flight. Subscribe