Routine testing, PPE for some Changi Airport staff to avoid Covid-19 transmission: Ong Ye Kung

About 2,500 airport workers have already been tested for Covid-19 so far since last week, all with negative results.
About 2,500 airport workers have already been tested for Covid-19 so far since last week, all with negative results.ST PHOTO: JASON QUAH

SINGAPORE - Staff at Changi Airport who come into close contact with passengers - such as swab assistants - will have to don full personal protective equipment (PPE) at work and be tested for Covid-19 every two weeks.

About 2,500 airport workers have already been tested for Covid-19 so far since last week, all with negative results. Another 1,000 or so more workers will be tested in the coming days, Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung told The Straits Times on Thursday (Oct 29).

The move comes after two workers at Terminal 3 were reported to be infected with Covid-19 last Saturday. One is a T3 security officer who had gone to work before being admitted to hospital.

The other is a screener and swab assistant at Raffles Medical at T3 who had gone to work before hospital admission.

The two had not interacted with each other, and investigations had not established any link between them, MOH said last week.

"As travel volume is expected to pick up in the coming months, MOH has been in discussion with relevant agencies to ramp up rostered routine testing of front-line staff working at Changi Airport," it added then.

Mr Ong said that both these workers had "come into close contact with passengers". Contact tracing is under way to identify those deemed to be close contacts.

While both had worn face masks and gloves, Mr Ong said: "I think that's not enough, so we are going to tighten up the process."

He said staff at the airport will be put on rostered routine testing similar to other front-line workers and migrant workers.

"For workers that come into close contact with passengers, they should don full PPE.

"Changi Airport Group will also step up the frequency of cleaning and disinfection."

Full PPE includes equipment such as gloves, gowns, caps and goggles.

More details about the safety precautions are expected to be released in the coming days.

The authorities have tested several groups of workers in recent months as part of efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

For example, around 11,000 people working in public bus depots and interchanges were screened for Covid-19 following the discovery of an infection cluster at Bukit Panjang's transport centre. These include all bus drivers as well as employees such as administrative staff.

Mr Ong said the Government takes the situation at Changi Airport very seriously, and will draw on its experience to address it.

"When we were dealing with the spreading of the virus in the dormitories and in Singapore Expo, we do have workers who got infected," he said.

"But very quickly we went on a tighter regime, took the necessary precautions and we saw the last of those infections. We have to do the same thing in Changi now."