Covid-19 Singapore: Everything We Know About the Changi Airport Cluster So Far
Singapore is currently experiencing a spike in the number of Covid-19 community cases. On May 13, the country reported 24 new community cases of Covid-19. This is the highest number of daily community cases recorded since July 11, 2020, and stems mostly from Singapore's largest active cluster in Changi Airport which accounted for 19 of the new cases reported. Currently, there are 42 patients linked to this cluster.
The growth of this cluster comes as Singapore battles a significant increase in community cases that began with the detection of a Covid-19 case in Tan Tock Seng Hospital a few weeks ago and has since snowballed into 12 active clusters and many new community Covid-19 cases.
The increase in cases has prompted the government to move the country back to Phase 2. This means that residents are no longer allowed to gather in groups of eight. They are only allowed to be in groups of five. Singaporeans have also been encouraged to limit social gatherings to two per day. Households should only see five distinct guests each day.
Many public spaces in Singapore such as libraries and certain malls also saw their occupancies being significantly reduced with the new rules.
Concerned about the Changi Airport cluster? Read on to find out everything we know about it so far.
1/6 The first case was detected on May 5
The Changi Airport cluster began on May 5 with an 88-year-old Singaporean cleaner testing positive for the virus. He was working at Changi Airport Terminal 3 at that time. The cluster began to grow very rapidly from there.
Three days later, three more workers at the airport tested positive. These included another cleaner, a safety coordinator and an aviation officer.
The next day, four new cases were detected in two cleaners, a Certis commercial and industrial security corporation (Cisco) officer and a Singapore Airport Terminal Services (Sats) passenger escort. These individuals all worked at Changi Airport Terminal 3.
2/6 Ramky Cleantech Services is placed on a safety time-out
Considering the growing number of cases among its cleaners, Ramky Cleantech Services, which is the main cleaning contractor for Changi Airport Terminal 3, was placed on a safety time-out.
The time-out began on May 10 and will last for 14 days.
During this period, the cleaning contractor will be required to do a full safety review and to do a refresher training for its cleaners. They will also have to reinforce segregation among their cleaners to minimise mixing between groups.
On May 10, the airport also closed basement two at Terminal 3 to the public after several Covid-19 cases visited outlets there.
Related: Younger People to be Invited to Receive Covid-19 Vaccinations From Late May 2021
3/6 A Victoria Junior College student tests positive
On May 8, it was announced that a student from Victoria Junior College had tested positive for Covid-19. The case was later linked to the Changi Airport cluster after it was discovered that the student had visited the Kopitiam food court at Changi Airport Terminal 3 on the same day as two other cases.
The case resulted in 95 students and eight staff members who had been in close contact with the student being placed on a quarantine order.
About 2,200 staff, vendors, visitors and students were also required to undergo Covid-19 swab tests. The school also moved to full home-based learning from May 10 to May 14.
On May 13, it was announced that all students, staff members and vendors had tested negative for the virus and that physical lessons will resume on May 17.
Related: Singapore Airlines and Cathay Pacific Release Flight Schedules for Singapore-Hong Kong Travel Bubble
4/6 Changi Airport terminals and Jewel have been closed
On May 12, it was announced by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Changi Airport Group (CAG) that Jewel and all Changi Airport passenger terminal buildings will be closed to the public from May 13. The closure will remain in place for two weeks and may be extended should the situation worsen.
That said, while Jewel will remain completely closed, some staff and travellers are still allowed to access the terminal buildings.
Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Changi Airport Group (CAG) added in a statement that "Changi Airport remains open for air travel during this period. Passengers may also continue to be dropped off and picked up from the airport. Access to the passenger terminal buildings will be restricted to only passengers with air tickets and essential airport workers. Some essential services and food and beverage outlets will remain open to serve them."
All airport workers and staff in Jewel have also been told to avoid going out except for essential work or activities for the next two weeks until they test negative for the virus.
They should also not be sent to other workplaces or outlets during this two week period.
During this two week closure, the terminals will be getting a deep clean. Staff who are working at the stores in the terminals and airports will also need to test negative for the virus before they are allowed to reopen.
The authorities added that rental rebates and other arrangements will be put into place to minimise the financial impact of this closure on shops and staff.
Related: Singapore Tops Covid-19 Resilience Ranking, Making it the Safest Place During the Pandemic
5/6 Terminal 3 visitors will get free Covid-19 testing
If you visited Changi Airport Terminal 3 from May 3 onwards, you are eligible for a free Covid-19 test. In an announcement that was made on May 12, the Ministry of Health said that it would progressively inform individuals of when they can book a test appointment through SMS.
This is to hopefully prevent wider, undetected community transmission.
Related: Covid-19 Vaccine: You Can Now Choose Between Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna in Singapore
6/6 Changi Airport has begun testing their workers
From May 9, Changi Airport began testing over 9,000 workers to detect any hidden cases among its airport workers.
They also announced that vaccinated frontline airport staff will now be tested every 14 days. They were previously being tested every 28 days.
The authorities are also pushing to vaccinate the rest of their medically eligible workers in the airport as soon as possible.
92 per cent of frontline aviation workers have been vaccinated, according to the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) and Changi Airport Group (CAG)
Related: Singapore-Hong Kong Travel Bubble to Launch on May 26