Changi Airport cluster started from zone that receives higher-risk countries' arrivals, says Singapore minister

The airport cluster has overtaken the hospital cluster this week to become the largest active Covid-19 cluster on Thursday with a total of 46 cases confirmed. ― TODAY pic
The airport cluster has overtaken the hospital cluster this week to become the largest active Covid-19 cluster on Thursday with a total of 46 cases confirmed. ― TODAY pic

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SINGAPORE, May 15 — Around the first 20 people infected by the coronavirus from the Changi Airport cluster were found to have “congregated” around one zone, which was receiving travellers from higher-risk countries.

Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung yesterday (May 14) said: “This is a zone with a finger pier that receives higher-risk countries' arrivals including South Asia, and then the conveyor belt and immigration. So it’s that whole zone and infections were all around that area.”

He added: “From that zone, workers go have their lunch, go have their meals at the Terminal 3 basement (level) two commercial areas and the food court and we suspect that from there, it is transmitted to members of the public who visited the place.”

He likened the zone to Changi Airport’s equivalent to Ward 9D at Tan Tock Seng Hospital, where a cluster of 44 cases were recorded after a nurse who worked at that ward was first confirmed to have contracted the virus on April 27.

The airport cluster has overtaken the hospital cluster this week to become the largest active Covid-19 cluster on Thursday with a total of 46 cases confirmed.

The cluster now has 59 cases, with 13 added yesterday. 

Ong said that when the first worker was detected on May 6, together with the Ministry of Health (MoH), contract tracing, testing and quarantining was done.

On May 8, an 18-year-old Victoria Junior College student was found to have Covid-19. MoH reported on May 11 that the student had visited the Kopitiam food court at Changi Airport Terminal 3 on the same day as two other infected persons.

It also said that she was likely to have been infected while she was there on May 3.

“So immediately... (we) closed down the entire commercial area in Terminal 3 basement two for deep cleaning, and then we started special operations with MoH to test 9,000 workers in Terminal 1, Terminal 3 plus Jewel,” he said.

All workers in Terminals 1 and 3, as well as Jewel Changi Airport — a retail and leisure entertainment complex on the airport grounds — have been undergoing mandatory Covid-19 tests in a special testing operation that began on May 9.

Visitors who have been to Changi Airport Terminal 3 from May 3 onwards will be offered free Covid-19 testing.

Terminal 2 has been closed since May 1 last year.

As a precaution, passenger terminal buildings will be reopened 14 days later on May 27.

Jewel Changi Airport will also be closed for the same duration.

Ong said that as of Wednesday night, 7,641 people have been tested and almost 6,000 results are out with six showing positive for the virus.

“What is noteworthy: 500 workers in Jewel have been tested and results are out and so far, all are negative.”

Ong added that there is another group of workers who are close contacts of earlier detected cases who are in quarantine and these workers are being tested. ― TODAY

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