April 23, 2021
By Kiran Sidhu
We hear it can be quite an experience with stringent monitoring in place. One of our travel partners recently shared the same flight with a passenger who tested Covid-19 positive on arrival at Changi Airport, Singapore. From health check phone calls throughout the night to a COVID-19 PCR test for his child – here’s an exclusive Covid-19 travel story about his experience.
On 25 March 2021, Jay (name changed for privacy) arrived at Changi Airport with his wife and 5-year old daughter. After completing the COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test on arrival, Jay and his family checked into an approved hotel to serve Stay-Home Notice (SHN) as per Singapore’s travel requirements. The SHN was later converted to a Quarantine Order when he was informed that someone on his flight had tested COVID-19 positive.
In this article, we'll take a look at:
Please share why you were travelling to Singapore and if you needed a special pass for entry
We travelled here for business purpose since both my wife and I work in Singapore. In order to enter the country, we were required to apply for special entry approvals from Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower.
What was the process like leaving New Delhi? And what arrangements did you have to make in advance for arrival in Singapore?
Before leaving New Delhi, we were required to take a PCR test from a recognised laboratory within 72 hours of departure. We submit our negative test results and health report through Singapore’s electronic health declaration arrival card. Other requirements before entry to Singapore include mandatory COVID-19 insurance at a minimum amount of SGD 30,000 and on-arrival PCR test booking at Changi Airport.
Upon arrival in Singapore, we were assigned a hotel stay at a designated SHN-dedicated facility (SDF). For two adult family members sharing a room, the cost of 14-day SDF stay is SGD 1,300 per person. But those who prefer to upgrade their stay to other hotels at a higher cost can apply for suite bookings before arrival.
Can you share what happened when you landed at Changi Airport?
For safety purposes, there is a long and stringent process to follow upon arrival at Changi Airport. Upon arrival, we were made to assemble in a dedicated lounge for document checking. The passengers are sorted on the basis of work passes, residency and citizenship. We were required to queue at specified lanes labelled three different colours. Once sorted into smaller batches, we prepared to take the on-arrival COVID-19 PCR test.
After our PCR tests and health declarations completed, we proceeded through immigration checks and collected our baggage. Finally, we assembled for transportation to our SHN hotel in a dedicated bus. Thermal screening and similar document checks were carried out once again upon arrival at the hotel.
When were you notified that someone on your flight tested COVID-19 positive?
Within 24 hours of checking into the hotel, I received a call past midnight from the Ministry of Health informing me that someone on our flight had tested positive on arrival. We were issued a Quarantine Order legal notice that said we could be a suspected carrier of COVID-19.
At this point, the primary focus was our wellbeing and safe transfer to a dedicated COVID-19 care facility. We received multiple automated calls from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Manpower.
How did you feel when you received the news?
I had mixed feelings. Based on mortality rates, there are more rapid cases like malaria. For a situation like this with so much awareness, there was no need to panic, but the system in place caused a sense of chaos.
In the short span of time before the transfer, there were so many phone calls from the authorities in charge and processes to follow. Every 15 to 30 minutes after receiving the news, I received health check phone calls asking for our body temperatures and how we were feeling. I think a lot of alarm and panic could have been avoided if things were done in a more systematic and structured manner.
How long did the transfer to the dedicated care facility take?
At around 1.30 am that same night on 26 March 2021, we were transferred to a hotel that is dedicated for COVID-19 care. The CISCO Certis front line officers or auxiliary police handled the transfer arrangements and logistics. We travelled in a designated bus and arrived at the COVID-19 care hotel within 30 minutes.
What was the check in process like at the dedicated care facility?
During the check in process, my wife and daughter were initially assigned a separate room from me. However, I discussed with the officials in-charge to allow us to stay together in the same room. After all, we had travelled together and it only would have caused more anxiety to be separated. We were given a thermometer and symptom health check sheet, and made to wear location tracker wristbands.
In the morning of 26 March 2021, we were taken for another COVID-19 PCR test. Fortunately, we tested negative yet again. But this time, my daughter was made to take the test also. This was nerve-wracking for us as a family because it is not mandatory for children below 7 years of age to take the test.
How frequent were the health checks throughout the quarantine period?
Health officials call us about 5 times a day to check on our temperature and well-being. The health checks are based on the COVID-19 symptom check sheet we were given. Symptoms include cough, breathing difficulties, sore throat and fever.
Each phone is about a minute long. During the first two nights at the Covid-19 care hotel, our sleep was disrupted because of phone call check-ins throughout the night. Video calls are also done twice in a day to get a better sense of our well-being. Through the video calls, the officials would be able to check that we are in the designated room and see if we look unwell or have a cough.
How strict is security and monitoring at the facility?
The hotel is monitored 24/7 by auxiliary police. We are also monitored through an electronic wristband that alerts the authorities if we leave our designated hotel room.
I had an eventful experience one night when, due to a fault in my wristband device, the authorities were alerted that I was not in the hotel room. Within a span of three hours, I received 15 phone calls to check on my location and make sure I was indeed in my room. It was very inconvenient and after some time, they concluded that my device was faulty.
Are you allowed food delivery services?
Yes, food delivery services like Foodpanda and GrabFood are allowed. The hotel personnel receives the delivery on our behalf and send it to our rooms.
This interview with Jay was done on 4 April 2021 while his family and he were still serving the 14-day Quarantine Order. At the time, they were four days away from completion. They were required to test negative for another COVID-19 PCR test before being released.
The Ministry of Health provides further information on SHN and quarantine orders here. All costs of COVID-19 PCR tests and stays at SHN facilities are to be borne by travellers. Claims for quarantine order allowances (QOA) of SGD 100 per day can only be made by:
1) Self-employed Singapore citizens or permanent residents
2) Singapore-registered companies whose employees under quarantine order are Singapore citizens, permanent residents or workpass holders.
Jay’s shares some parting advice for fellow travellers during these COVID-19 times: “Travelling generally weakens our immunity and can make us more susceptible to getting sick. Keep safe and healthy, and take your vitamins and health supplements when travelling.”
Are you planning to travel but anxious about it? Use Covid Entry Check to navigate through all that travel restrictions, green lane and travel route information. And when you’re ready to start booking, head over to TruTrip.co.
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