Additional Measures Put in Place at the Airport to Protect Workers and the Community

Nearly 19,000 workers tested, 10 tested positive for COVID-19

  • 10:55 AM, 23 May, 2021
Singapore Changi Airport 

(Singapore, May 22, 2021) Given the emergence of a more transmissible COVID-19 strain, we are boosting our defences against the virus at Changi Airport. Our airport workers form the first line of defence against COVID-19. Protecting them is therefore essential to prevent further transmission to their families and the larger community.

Boosting Our Defences 

Since March 2020, workers handling flights from the highest-risk countries were trained in and donning the full suite of personal protective equipment (PPE) - N95 masks, face shields, medical gowns and gloves. To boost our defences at the airport given the emergence of a more transmissible strain of Covid-19, from May 2021, we are implementing stricter cohorting arrangements for airport workers. These include separate dining and rest areas for different groups of airport workers and ringfencing higher risk work teams from mingling with other work teams.

Changi Airport Passenger Terminal Buildings and Jewel to remain closed to public

Besides segregating arriving passengers to minimise interactions, which has been in place since March 2020, we are also augmenting our testing regime for arriving passengers and airport workers:

From 20 May 2021, all arriving passengers from very high-risk countries/regions must undergo on-arrival Antigen Rapid Tests (ART), on top of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests. While an ART is less sensitive than a PCR test, it provides an additional layer of screening. The quicker turnaround time of an ART compared to a PCR test will allow for public health actions to be taken more quickly for persons who test positive by ART.

From 23 May 2021, airport workers in higher risk roles will be required to take an additional ART between their 7-day rostered routine tests.

More than 90% of frontline aviation workers have been vaccinated to date since the start of the Sea-Air Vaccination Exercise (SAVE) in January 2021. We are working with the aviation community to vaccinate more workers within the next few weeks.

Special Testing Operation of Airport Workers

From 9 May to 20 May 2021, close to 19,000 frontline workers and office workers in the Changi Airport Passenger Terminal Buildings (PTBs) and Jewel Changi Airport  were tested for COVID-19 as part of a special testing operation to quickly detect, isolate and treat any potential COVID-19 cases in the airport community. 

All workers at Changi Airport Terminal 1 and Jewel have tested negative for COVID-19; ten workers from Terminal 3 (T3) were tested positive. Out of an abundance of caution, all airport workers who were working around T3 Basement 2 who had tested negative for COVID-19 in their first test, have been rostered to take an additional COVID-19 test since 20 May 2021 – these results are pending.

Jewel remains closed to the public

COVID-positive Airport Workers

 As of 20 May 2021, 43 airport workers, including the 10 tested positive for COVID-19 from the special testing operation, have been tested positive for COVID-19. The 33 other airport workers who have been tested positive for COVID-19 were detected while serving Quarantine Orders, through earlier Rostered Routine Testing, through the Ministry of Health’s (MOH’s) voluntary testing operation for visitors to T3, or upon seeking medical treatment from a General Practitioner (see Annex). Most of these cases were detected early – cases peaked around 13 May, with very few cases among airport workers subsequently. None of the cases are in serious condition, require oxygen or are in the Intensive Care Unit.

Phylogenetic testing results for an initial batch of COVID-19 positive airport workers were found to be similar and of the B1617 variant, indicating that they originated from a common source. Preliminary investigations indicate that the initial transmission could have occurred through an airport worker who was assisting a family from South Asia, who arrived in Singapore on 29 April 2021 and were subsequently found to be positive for COVID-19 through their On-Arrival Tests. Further investigations by MOH and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) are ongoing.

 Additional cleaning and disinfection of Changi Airport PTBs and Jewel have been completed. As an added precaution, Changi Airport PTBs and Jewel will remain closed to members of public till the end of the Phase 2 (Heightened Alert) period, 13 June 2021. During this closure period, airport workers will be briefed and trained on the new measures and requirements, to allow the new measures and safety protocols to be implemented smoothly. The airport remains open for air travel. 

The safety of our airport workers and safeguarding public health remain our top priorities. Together with the aviation community, CAAS and Changi Airport Group (CAG) will continue to actively review and strengthen our measures to protect airport workers, their families and public health. We call on all Singaporeans to continue giving their full support to our airport workers in this difficult period.

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