AVIATION | Staff Reporter, Singapore

Changi enforces stricter measures amidst outbreak of new COVID-19 strain

Some new measures will be introduced on top of previous health protocols.

Changi Airport will ramp up measures to protect airport workers and passengers from COVID-19 after an outbreak of the virus, including the more virulent variant B.1.617, spread through a worker who helped an infected family arriving in the country.

One of the new measures to be introduced is a new zoning concept based on workers’ risk exposure. Under this concept, the airport’s terminals will be segregated into three zones.

Airport workers in Zone 1 (the terminal piers, arrival immigration hall and baggage claim hall) will be protected in the highest-level PPE and segregated from other workers throughout the duration of their shift. As an added precautionary measure, passengers from very high-risk countries will be escorted to remote gates in Terminal 2 for immigration clearance and then transported by bus out of Changi Airport directly to their quarantine facility, without going through the operational terminals.

Zone 1 workers will have their own dining areas with individual seating, rest areas, reserved toilets and dedicated PPE donning and doffing stations. Except during meal times or when using the toilet, they will have to be fully attired at the appropriate PPE level. All Zone 1 workers will remain within their work zone throughout their shift. Similarly, staff working in Zones 2 and 3 will have to comply with the applicable PPE requirements.

Additional training as well as regular reminders from supervisors on PPE protocol will also be implemented. More audits and spot checks will also be carried out.

Only fully vaccinated staff will be rostered for duty in Zone 1. CAG targets to have more than 90% of workers in Zones 2 and 3 vaccinated in the coming weeks.

A more robust testing regime will also be introduced for Zone 1 workers. In addition to the Polymerase Chain Reaction test every seven days, interspersed with the Antigen Rapid Test on the third day, daily rapid non-invasive testing to be carried out at the end of workers’ shifts is being planned.

CAG said it recognises the significant demands the new zoning concept places on the workers, especially those working in Zone 1 and it will work closely with its airport partners and agencies to ensure that workers’ welfare is taken care of.

“We now know the primary zone where the infection emanated from. With our airport partners, and together with the authorities, we have worked hard to reinvent our operating processes and enhanced our protocols, so that we can decisively ring-fence and segment the zone serving arriving passengers, regardless of where they are flying from. By doing so, we aim to ensure that all of our airport staff and Singaporeans are safe going forward, while we continue to keep Singapore connected to the rest of the world,” said Lee Seow Hiang, chief executive officer of Changi Airport Group.

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