Singapore Airlines has ordered its cabin crew to wear surgical face masks on all flights according to a new internal memo sighted by the Straits Times. The measure was implemented on Saturday and replaces a recent relaxation of grooming standards that allowed crew members to wear the masks at their own discretion.
In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson for Singapore Airlines confirmed the move, explaining that it is just “the latest measure that SIA has taken to minimise the risks for both its customers and staff.” The spokesperson said it was a temporary measure in response to the COVID-19 Coronavirus outbreak.
The order from SIA management follows a recent rise in COVID-19 cases in the small city State. As of midday on March 8, Singapore had recorded a total of 150 Coronavirus cases. Over half have already recovered but more than 50 remain hospitalised and nine are in a critical condition.
Singapore’s health authorities have denied a widely circulated rumour that one patient has died after contracting the virus.
Officials did, however, reveal on Friday that a 47-year old male cabin crew for Singapore Airlines had been confirmed to have caught COVID-19. The crew member is believed to be the first Singaporean flight attendant to have caught the virus.
He had been in South Africa in mid-February and had worked a trip to France in early March but had called sick as soon as he experienced the onset of symptoms.
Last Wednesday, officials also confirmed that a female passenger had been found to be infected with COVID-19 after flying on a Singapore Airlines flights from Milan at the end of February.
According to the Straits Times, the airline has sought to reassure its flight attendants that they won’t face disciplinary action should they need to remove their face mask for short periods.
“Do note that you will not be penalised for the temporary removal of your mask. Please put your mask back on as soon as possible after its removal,” the memo reads.
However, there is growing uncertainty about the effectiveness of surgical face masks in preventing the spread of COVID-19 despite their popularity throughout the region. The World Health Organisation (WHO) maintains that healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if they are taking care of a person with suspected 2019-nCoV infection.”
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently used by some of the biggest names in journalism.