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SIA stewardess infected with Covid-19 did not serve passengers on UAE flight; only outside contact was with cleaners in Dubai

SINGAPORE – The Singapore Airlines (SIA) stewardess who tested positive for Covid-19 after a turnaround flight to the United Arab Emirates last month did not serve any passengers on both legs of the trip.

But the 41-year-old Singaporean had come into contact with some cleaners during the stopover at Dubai International Airport, said Transport Minister Ong Ye Kung, who gave more details of her case on Thursday (Feb 11).

The stewardess on the Jan 30 flight was serving business class, which had no passengers, he told reporters at an event to mark the first SIA flight manned by fully vaccinated crew.

She did not disembark from the plane, as there was no layover, and was a passenger for the return leg.

She had sat with other crew members at the back of the plane in their own area, which had a dedicated toilet.

“The rest of the crew who sat with her, they are okay. Only she was infected,” Mr Ong said, adding that the authorities are still investigating.

The Health Ministry reiterated on Tuesday that it takes a few weeks for individuals to build up immunity against Covid-19 after completing vaccination, and it is possible to get infected just before or after inoculation.

The stewardess, who returned to Singapore on Jan 31, received her first dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine on Feb 2. She lost her sense of smell two days later but did not seek medical attention. Her case was eventually picked up during routine testing.

She was the fifth person on the flight to test positive for Covid-19. Preliminary test results showed that all five had contracted the more infectious B117 strain of the virus.

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Asked about complacency creeping into workers who have received their jabs, Mr Ong said it was important to incorporate safety into work culture and day-to-day practices. “When it comes to this virus, nothing is foolproof… We just have to keep on fighting, keep on being alert.”

On Singapore’s aim to become a vaccine distribution hub, Mr Ong said there is currently a shortage in supply, as manufacturing has not been adequately ramped up.

But he expects this to be sorted out over the course of the year. “It’s the same thing as masks… It is only a matter of time that you start to have more production and distribution of vaccines, and certainly we have the ability, the cold chain, and the coordination among different stakeholders… to allow us to play a role.”

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Mr Ong also commented on the inter-ministerial Singapore Green Plan 2030, which was unveiled on Wednesday. He said it had started several months ago, when various ministers met up to brainstorm ideas on how to promote sustainability and whether targets could be pushed further.

“(We had) our own policies… But really, there’s a lot of synergy,” he said.

He added that the Transport Ministry’s new goal to build 60,000 electric vehicle charging points by 2030 – more than double its original target of 28,000 – is “very achievable”.

“If you take into account private premises fully… I think there can be even more.”

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