From July 2021 to 1 Sep 2021, 284 frontline staff in the bus interchanges have tested positive for COVID-19. This represents less than 3% of our 11,000 frontline staff in the bus sector. The public transport operators (PTOs) have taken the “Vaccinate, Test and Trace” approach to ensure the safety of their frontline workers.
Our public transport frontline workers were among the first groups to be offered vaccinations earlier this year. To date, over 99% have completed their first dose of the vaccine and over 95% are fully vaccinated.
Since July 2021, following a rise in community cases, the PTOs have implemented regular testing for their workers working near the existing COVID-19 clusters, so that we can pick up and isolate COVID-19 positive cases early. The proactive testing regime, coupled with community surveillance testing by the Ministry of Health, helped to detect and isolate close to half of the bus captains who recently tested positive for COVID-19 at the bus interchanges. The infected workers are mostly asymptomatic or showing only mild symptoms. No one has fallen seriously ill.
All detected cases at the bus interchanges so far have been confined to workers and some household members. To reduce the likelihood of further workplace transmissions, we have worked with PTOs and the National Transport Workers’ Union to enhance the safe management measures. These include:
· Segregating staff resting and dining areas at bus interchanges;
· Single seating at dining areas;
· Doubling the frequency of cleaning of high touch points at staff areas to at least once every hour;
· Accelerating ongoing installation of HEPA air purifiers at enclosed working areas; and
· Setting up physical separators at designated smoking areas.
There is no major impact on bus operations so far. However, LTA has worked with the PTOs to develop contingency plans that can be implemented quickly to minimise the impact on commuters should more cases emerge from ongoing community surveillance testing. Any lengthening of bus service headways required will be progressive, starting with low demand bus services to minimise the impact on commuters.
Our public transport workers have been working tirelessly to keep public transport running smoothly in the past 18 months. We wish to put on record our appreciation for our public transport workers’ sacrifices and continued cooperation, and for the support from our tripartite partners.