On Feb. 1, Minister of Home Affairs K Shanmugam clarified that ICA officers can wear a mask if they feel the need to.
Speaking to the press after visiting the staff members at Woodlands checkpoint, he addressed the recent rumours about Immigration Checkpoint Authority (ICA) officers being instructed not to wear masks while they are on duty.
ICA officers not allowed to wear masks? It's a misunderstanding.
Shanmugam said that the ICA officers are following similar protocols as other frontline workers to protect themselves from the novel coronavirus.
He emphasised that staff members have to first identify whether they are feeling unwell and if they are not well, they should see a doctor and not turn up for work.
He confirmed that ICA officers can wear a mask if they feel the need to, even if they are well.
"If you feel, for some reason the need to wear the mask, go ahead to wear the mask. So there is some misunderstanding."
He also highlighted that there is a high risk of getting the virus in from the hands (i.e. touching contaminated surfaces and bringing it to the face), and emphasised the need to practice good personal hygiene.
"The riskiest part of the body right now is your hands, many of us touch things and bring it to our face, that's the possibility of the virus going in."
Additional measures put in place
Shanmugam said that the ICA officers at the checkpoint are "performing exceptionally well" and expressed his appreciation for their hard work during this period.
While festive periods typically bring about a surge in travel, Shanmugam said that the crowds at the checkpoint have visibly reduced since the novel coronavirus outbreak.
There are also additional measures put in place to ensure every visitors are screened and have their travel history checked.
Top photo by Fasiha Nazren.