A member of the public, Mr Ong Cheng Hin, wrote to ST Forum expressing alarm at what he perceived as lax control in social distancing in Changi Airport. His letter was published today (‘Forum: Stricter Covid-19 measures needed for inbound passengers at airport‘, 15 Apr).
He said that he recently flew back to Singapore and landed at Changi Airport.
“Upon arrival at the airport three weeks ago, I was disappointed with the lack of segregation between passengers from different incoming flights, and worried about potential contact with outbound passengers,” Mr Ong said.
“Much to my dismay, inbound passengers were allowed to roam freely upon landing. One was free to hang around in the terminal between departure gates for as long as one wanted, rather than being sent straight for swab testing.”
“Considering the dozens of daily imported cases, I am perplexed to see that incoming passengers are allowed to join the shortest queue for immigration clearance, whenever they like,” he continued.
“I observed similar unregulated processes at the baggage claim area, long before passengers were funnelled to swab stations.”
Mr Ong lamented, “Imagine the many opportunities for infection, from the moment at-risk passengers touch down at the airport. The possible intermingling of passengers from different flights, and having swab stations as the last port of call, are another cause for concern.”
According to Immigration and Checkpoint Authority (ICA), for foreigners travelling to Singapore, except for those from few countries, most would need to take the COVID-19 PCR test within 72 hours before departure for Singapore, showing a negative result. They would also need to take a further COVID-19 PCR test on-arrival. Thereafter, they need to serve a 14-day SHN at SHN Dedicated Facility (SDF) and get tested again at the end of the SHN.
As shown by the daily number of imported cases in Singapore, the pre-departure PCR test 72 hours before flying to Singapore is no guarantee that the traveller is COVID-19 free. Also, fake COVID-19 test results are frequently sold in some of the third world countries.
As such, Mr Ong’s concerns are not without merits, since anyone landed at Changi Airport may be carrying the coronavirus.