In view of the escalating global Wuhan coronavirus crisis, the Singapore government will be implementing temperature screening for all flights arriving at Changi Airport from Wednesday, Jan. 29.
It will also be deploying healthcare teams to aerobridges to look out for individuals on flights arriving from China who appear unwell, with immigration officers paying special attention to travellers with passports issued in Hubei and taking down their contact details.
The Immigrations and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) also said it has started manually separating travellers with Hubei-issued passports from Monday (Jan. 27) at 11am, with officers at Changi and Seletar Airports referring them to screening stations for further medical assessment.
This is a significant expansion of existing measures, which currently involve only those arriving on flights from China — this was implemented from Jan. 22:
There are currently 35 temperature scanners placed across the airport's four terminals, to check those arriving on more than 430 flights from China every week.
This escalated step was announced on Monday morning by Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who is co-chairing the Multi-Ministry Taskforce on the Wuhan Coronavirus with Health Minister Gan Kim Yong.
The taskforce is made up of a total of 10 political office holders advised by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, including:
- Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran
- Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing
- Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Masagos Zulkifli
- Labour Chief and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Ng Chee Meng
- Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung
- Minister for Manpower and Second Minister for National Affairs Josephine Teo
- Minister for Social and Family development and Second Minister for National Development Desmond Lee, and
- Senior Minister of State for the ministries of transport and Comms & Info Janil Puthucheary
Wong explained that this was necessary as not all travellers coming into Singapore from China may be taking direct flights into Singapore, and so thermal scanners will be installed at Changi Airport's arrival terminals.
These will start screening arriving passengers and flight crew on all flights arriving at Changi from Wednesday.
In addition, Wong stated that healthcare teams will be deployed to aerobridges to identify passengers who look unwell, given that fever may not be present for all cases.
He said there will be signs clearly displayed on the bridges to direct passengers who feel unwell or who have recently been to the Hubei province to the healthcare teams.
With regard to passengers with Hubei-issued passports, Wong said the government will "pay attention" to them in particular. The numbers of these travellers arriving in Singapore are coming down thanks to Chinese-government-issued travel restrictions.
"But we will monitor closely and ICA will pull them aside if they are holding such passports, ensure
that they are well, and get them to provide all the contact details and we will continue to keep watch when they are in Singapore."
Extended travel advisory
During the press conference, Wong also announced an extended travel advisory beyond just Wuhan and the Hubei province.
Travellers are now advised to avoid non-essential travel to the whole of mainland China, with immediate effect.
Wong explained that this move is a "necessary safeguard against further spread of the virus" given our status as an "international transport hub".
"Our aim is to reduce, minimise the risk of more imported cases, to contain and isolate, the identified cases," he said.
Additional reporting by Andrew Koay & Sumita Thiagarajan.
Top photo via Changi Airport Facebook page