The Singapore Immigration Department has raised concerns with Indian airlines, alleging that they are breaking the COVID-19 protocol by deploying crew members on international flights before completing the 14-day mandatory home isolation period. The aviation authority Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is likely to look into the matter and take action if required.
The increase in the Omicron cases and home isolation requirements have made it challenging for the airlines to allocate a crew for the flights. According to ANI, a leading airline put a cabin crew on the flight for duty after the person completed ten days of home isolation instead of the mandatory 14 days. On arrival at Changi airport, Singapore Immigration Department staff detained the cabin crew member and made him under RT-PCR test.
The department reportedly raised a complaint with India’s aviation regulator DGCA, which is currently examining the airline’s alleged lapse. A positive person travelling to Singapore will have to follow mandatory 14-day home quarantine even after receiving a negative RT-PCR report.
Singapore has frozen new ticket sales under its quarantine-free travel into Singapore. Dubbed as Vaccinated Travel Lane (VTL) programme, Singapore allowed quarantine-free entry for some countries to fully-vaccinated travellers. The passengers have to test negative for COVID-19 two days before the departure and upon arrival. However, this arrangement is temporarily put on hold.
Singapore reported 960 new COVID-19 cases on January 13, including 479 imported infections. The country also confirmed 549 new Omicron infections on Thursday, comprising 183 imported cases and 366 local cases. Overall, Singapore has recorded 289,085 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic until Thursday.
Airlines face a shortage of workforce
Airlines globally face a severe crunch of the workforce due to increasing COVID-19 cases. Adhering to ICMR’s Omicron management guidelines, DGCA said asymptomatic COVID-19 positive crew members would be declared “fit for unrestricted flying” after seven days of home quarantine. Mildly symptomatic crew members will be deemed fit for flying after 14 days of isolation. This way, DGCA intends to ensure enough staff circulation for Indian airlines. Airlines have resumed amending the schedules to suit the norms of different countries.