SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/ANN): All Singapore Airlines (SIA) cabin crew members working on flights from London will now have to wear N95 masks and protective overalls amid growing concerns about the new strain of the Covid-19 virus in the city.
They will also have to take Covid-19 swab tests after their return. They will not be allowed to resume work on other flights until they get a negative result, in line with the usual practice when flying to areas with higher risks of Covid-19 infections.
SIA is currently operating two direct flights daily from London's Heathrow Airport on most days. The flights are about 13 hours long.
The additional requirements for protective equipment for flights from London kicked in on Wednesday (Dec 23), SIA said in response to queries on Thursday.
Prior to this, cabin crew had already been wearing goggles, gloves and surgical masks for all flights.
Reports about a new strain of the coronavirus that is 70 per cent more infectious surfaced last week.
On Tuesday, Singapore joined more than 40 other countries in tightening restrictions on travellers arriving from the United Kingdom.
The Ministry of Health had said that all long-term pass holders and short-term visitors with travel history to Britain within the last 14 days will not be allowed to enter or transit through Singapore.
Returning Singaporeans and permanent residents will have to be tested on arrival, and again towards the end of their 14-day stay-home notice period at dedicated facilities.
SIA also said on Thursday that it already has a series of precautions to protect its crew and reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
For long-haul flights where the crew will have to stay over in the destination country, SIA has been chartering a dedicated bus for crew to be transported to and from the hotels, which are located away from city centres.
"All crew are required to stay in their hotel rooms during the layover period, and they need to wear devices that track their location to ensure that they comply with this regulation," said SIA.
The crew members must also take their temperature regularly and closely monitor their health throughout their duty period.
To protect crew and other passengers on flights, if anyone - passenger or crew member - were to report feeling unwell, the person would be moved to a dedicated quarantine area within the plane, SIA added.
The unwell person would be attended to by a cabin crew dressed in full personal protective gear, and would be checked by medical authorities upon the plane's landing.