The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) on Sunday (24 January) clarified that the Singapore Airlines (SIA) cabin crew member who initially tested negative for COVID-19 was given a five-day medical leave by a general practitioner for fever before testing positive for the virus a few days later.
As of last Friday (22 January), the Ministry of Health (MOH) has preliminarily confirmed 14 new imported cases, who had been placed on Stay-Home Notice (SHN) or isolated upon arrival in Singapore, and one locally transmitted case of COVID-19.
Case 59529, a 29-year-old Indian national who works as a cabin crew member of Singapore Airlines, was among the 14 imported cases reported at the time.
MOH noted that the woman had travelled to the United Kingdom for work between 12 and 13 January, as reported by CNA.
She returned to Singapore on 14 January and took a COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test upon arrival. Her test came back negative on the same day.
MOH said the work pass holder developed a fever on 17 January and sought medical treatment at a general practitioner clinic.
She developed loss of smell on 20 January and was tested for COVID-19 the following day.
Her test result came back positive on 22 January.
“She had mostly stayed at home from 14 January until she was conveyed to the hospital on 22 January,” said the Ministry.
From 30 December last year, aircrew members who layover in “high-risk destinations” are required to undergo a PCR test on three occasions – upon arrival in Singapore, and on the third and seventh day following their return.
Additionally, they have to self-isolate until they receive a negative result from their seventh-day PCR test.
CAAS clarified yesterday that the cabin crew was not able to travel to the swabbing centre for her second COVID-19 PCR test because she was given a five-day medical leave for fever after seeing a general practitioner on 17 January.
“When we discovered that she had not attended her test on the third day, and her condition, we informed the Ministry of Health and she was conveyed to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases,” it added.
CAAS further noted that self-isolating air-crew members are allowed to leave their homes for short periods for essential purposes but they have to minimize time spent in public spaces.
“We should note that air-crew who fly to high-risk regions like the United Kingdom, are doing a service for Singapore.
“This is because there are still Singaporeans wanting to return home, and our crew ensure that essential travel between Singapore and key cities in the world continue,” it noted.
Meanwhile, a spokesperson from SIA told CNA on Saturday (23 January) that investigations have shown that the cabin crew had adhered to the self-isolation protocols required after the return of her flight on 14 January.
“As per the guidelines for self-isolation, the cabin crew minimised contact with the community by staying at home and only leaving the home for essential needs or to seek medical attention,” said the spokesperson.
Netizens urge to implement 14-day SHN for cabin crew
Under the comment section of CNA’s Facebook post on the matter, many netizens pointed out that air crew should be placed under 14-day Stay Home Notice (SHN) after arriving in Singapore, especially cabin crew who were returning from high-risk countries.
Some netizens pointed out that the cabin crew member should have attended her second COVID-19 PCR test when she developed fever, instead of seeking medical treatment from a general practitioner.
Others highlighted that SIA is putting their cabin crew’s health at risk for resuming flights to high-risk countries.