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Written Reply by Minister for Transport S Iswaran to Parliamentary Question on Causes for Recent COVID-19 Infections amongst Bus Captains at Bus Interchanges

14 Sep 2021 In Parliament

Mr Gerald Giam Yean Song asked the Minister for Transport 

a.     what have been the modes of transmission of COVID-19 infections at bus interchanges; 

b.     whether any commuters have been infected at bus interchanges or while on buses with infected bus captains; and 

c.     whether public transport companies will be requiring all their bus captains to be vaccinated. 

Reply by Minister for Transport S Iswaran:

1.     Ensuring the safety of our public transport workers and commuters has been our top priority. One way to achieve this is through a high vaccination rate to keep frontline staff and commuters safe. Our public transport workers were one of the first groups to be offered vaccinations early this year. More than 96% of them have been fully vaccinated. 

2.     Since the start of the circuit breaker period last year, we have enhanced Safe Management Measures and the cleaning regimes of our buses, trains and public transport nodes, especially high contact areas. These have enabled public transport operations to run smoothly and safely over the past 18 months. As the virus mutates, we have continually reviewed the adequacy of our measures in consultation with public health experts. 

3.     The Ministry of Health’s (MOH) preliminary investigations indicate that given the high number of cases in the community, it is likely that the infections amongst bus workers originated from the community. When community cases rose sharply in July, the public transport operators implemented regular testing for their employees working near COVID-19 clusters, to pick up and isolate COVID-19 positive cases early. This proactive testing, coupled with community surveillance testing by the Ministry of Health, helped to quickly detect and isolate about half of the current bus frontline workers who tested positive for COVID-19. In addition to the seven-day Fast and Easy Test (FET) Rostered Routine Testing (RRT) regime which commenced on 1 September, we are also conducting swab tests at interchanges with higher number of cases to detect cases and quickly contain further spread.