Authorities: 'Unlikely' traveller from NZ contracted COVID-19 while in transit at Changi Airport

Staff Writer, Singapore
·Editorial Team
·2-min read
A general view of the vehicle drop-off point at Singapore Changi Airport's terminal 2, which is set to suspend operations for 18 months from May 1, 2020, as the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic impacts the aviation sector, in Singapore on April 30, 2020. (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN / AFP) (Photo by ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
Singapore Changi Airport. (PHOTO: Roslan Rahman/AFP via Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — Authorities in Singapore said that it is “unlikely” that a traveller from New Zealand was infected with COVID-19 during his stopover transit at Changi Airport en route to South Korea.

In a joint media statement released on Friday (31 July), the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said their initial investigations found that the traveller, who is asymptomatic, left New Zealand on 21 July and arrived in South Korea on 22 July.

A polymerase chain reaction test done four hours after the person’s arrival was positive for the coronavirus.

According to World Health Organisation, the average incubation period for COVID-19 is five to six days, up to a maximum of 14 days.

“Our initial investigations found that it is unlikely that the individual was infected during transit in Changi Airport, as that would mean an incubation period of less than 24 hours,” MOH and CAAS said in their joint statement.

“Singapore is in contact with the New Zealand and South Korea authorities for further information. The source of infection remains unknown and investigations by the various authorities are ongoing.

“As an added precaution, contact tracing in Singapore is also underway.”

Stringent measures to segregate passengers

New Zealand’s health ministry had said on Tuesday that the traveller spent 14 hours and 20 minutes in a transit lounge at Changi Airport.

Before departing from New Zealand, the individual was also on a domestic flight from Auckland to Christchurch. The ministry added on Thursday that close contact tracing of passengers on the domestic flight has been completed.

MOH and CAAS said that there are stringent measures undertaken at Changi Airport to ensure that transiting passengers are segregated from other passengers at all stages of their journey – both in flight and at the airport. Safe distancing and temperature taking for passengers and staff are also enforced.

“All passengers travelling through Changi Airport are required to wear masks at all times, while airport staff wear personal protective equipment when interacting with passengers. Safe distancing, temperature taking for passengers and staff are also enforced,” the authorities added.

“All transit passengers, including those who had arrived on the same flight as the individual, adhered to these precautionary measures.”

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