Singapore – A new Covid-19 cluster was discovered on Friday (July 24) at Bukit Panjang Integrated Transport Hub. Furthermore, it was confirmed that all four cases were bus drivers; resulting in safety concerns towards public transport highlighted by members of the online community.
Transport operator SMRT confirmed on Sunday (July 26) that the four Covid-19 cases linked to Bukit Panjang Integrated Transport Hub were all bus drivers, reported straitstimes.com. Three of the drivers acquired the virus at home, said SMRT. The last driver was confirmed positive on Thursday and was traced to have gone to work on July 1 at Ulu Pandan Bus Depot and Bukit Panjang Integrated Transport Hub while showing symptoms. According to SMRT, the 28-year-old Malaysian work permit holder reported sick with fever on July 1 and was placed on medical leave from July 1 to July 7. He returned to work on July 8, showing no symptoms.
The four drivers confirmed positive for the virus between July 7 and July 24, said SMRT, and drove bus services 976, 184 and 176. SMRT employees who were in close contact with the four drivers have been placed on a leave of absence, said SMRT chief communications officer Margaret Teo.
SMRT has been assisting the Ministry of Health with contact tracing and continues to disinfect buses and other common facilities. “We have also reiterated to all public transport operators the need to continue to enforce strict safe management measures for public transport workers which include spaced seating and staggered break times. If they are unwell, they should seek medical attention immediately and remain at home,” said an SMRT representative who noted that the risk of transmission from transient contact such as public transport was reported to be low.
Meanwhile, members of the public expressed their concern with the incident, questioning the safety of those taking public transport. “Bus drivers should be tested regularly,” suggested Facebook user Tashi Dolma, while another netizen commented that “low risk doesn’t mean no risk,” and urged those who take the bus to be extra careful. “Obviously, public transport is not safe. We only take it because we have no choice,” said a netizen.
Facebook user Christopher Lim noted that the work culture must change. “When sick, don’t go back to work.” Others reminded the public not to “depend on the Government to tell (us) what to do” and to practice safe distancing and social responsibility.