Pilots and cabin crew returning from overseas to be tested for Covid-19

Pilots and cabin crew have been taking precautions while working, including donning masks on flights. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

SINGAPORE - Pilots and cabin crew working for Singapore carriers will be routinely tested for Covid-19 from Thursday (Aug 20) upon their return from overseas.

This is part of stepped-up precautions to guard against the spread of coronavirus in the community, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said.

"Existing protocols have been effective in keeping aircrew of Singapore carriers safe as there have been no positive Covid-19 cases among aircrew of Singapore carriers for more than three months," said CAAS.

"However, there is a need for continued vigilance and Covid-19 testing will provide added assurance for crew, their families and the general public that any imported infection can be quickly detected, and given necessary medical treatment promptly."

The last time flight staff were reported to have tested positive was when Singapore Airlines (SIA) said in April that three cabin crew and a "tech crew member", a term for pilots, were affected by the coronavirus.

The new testing requirement applies to the aircrew of the four local airlines - SIA, SilkAir, Scoot and Jetstar Asia.

They will be tested using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, which is the testing standard used globally to diagnose if someone is currently infected with the coronavirus.

CAAS added that aircrew of Singapore carriers returning from regions where travellers there are allowed to serve their stay-home notices at their own accommodation will be exempt from Covid-19 testing.

For example, aircrew that had travelled to mainland China and South Korea will not need to be tested upon their return to Singapore.

Pilots and cabin crew have been taking precautions while working, including donning masks on flights.

They also do not leave the aircraft overseas when working on turnaround flights.

In a layover, they wear masks, observe safe distancing measures and remain in their crew accommodation at all times.

However, there was no requirement for them to be tested for Covid-19 upon their return to Singapore.

The authorities have been especially vigilant in some sectors, such as construction where the incidence of positive Covid-19 results was high.

After the discovery of an infection cluster at Bukit Panjang's transport centre in July, officials announced plans to screen around 11,000 people working in public bus depots and interchanges.

These included all bus drivers as well as employees such as administrative staff.

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