Grab driver with COVID-19 worked from Dec 17 to 24, contact tracing of passengers ongoing: MOH

SINGAPORE: The part-time private-hire driver who was reported as Singapore’s sole community case of COVID-19…

SINGAPORE: The part-time private-hire driver who was reported as Singapore’s sole community case of COVID-19 on Monday worked with Grab from Dec 17 to 24, the Ministry of Health (MOH) told CNA on Wednesday. 

The 48-year-old man, who is also a Singapore Airlines steward, had travelled to the United States for work from Dec 12 to Dec 16 on what MOH described as a “controlled itinerary”.

“Case 58766 worked as a part-time private-hire driver with Grab between Dec 17 and 24, 2020,” MOH said.

“He had remained at home from Dec 25 until he was confirmed to be positive for COVID-19 infection on Dec 27 and conveyed to the hospital.”

Contact tracing is under way to identify the man’s passengers and close contacts will be quarantined when identified, the ministry said.

“The risk of transmission is generally assessed to be low on public transport where contact is transient (such as buses and trains),” MOH said.

“However, given the close proximity between drivers and passengers in private-hire cars and taxis, passengers who are assessed to be close contacts of a confirmed case will be quarantined as a precautionary measure.”

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FIRST INCONCLUSIVE TEST ON DEC 23

On Monday, MOH said that the case was detected as part of proactive testing of air crew who have returned from overseas flights, arranged by the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS).

All Singapore air crew undergo regular PCR testing upon return from overseas, CAAS said in a separate update on Wednesday night.

READ: Singapore tightens COVID-19 measures for air crew, including more frequent PCR tests 

The man was tested for COVID-19 on Dec 23, but the result came back inconclusive on Dec 25, necessitating another test. A second test conducted on Dec 25 was also inconclusive.

The man, who is asymptomatic, had remained at home while awaiting the further tests.

On Dec 27, his swab came back positive for COVID-19 infection and he was taken to the National Centre for Infectious Disease on the same day.

The man’s serological test result was negative, which indicated that he was likely having a current infection.

The man was classified as a locally transmitted case due to a “relatively long time interval” between his travel and positive COVID-19 test, MOH said.

His identified close contacts as of Monday, including family members and co-workers, have been isolated and placed on quarantine.

All crew members and 16 passengers who were seated in the section of the aircraft cabin served by the man have tested negative for COVID-19, said CAAS in its update on Wednesday night.

The man had adhered to mandated in-flight and layover measures, including wearing a mask, minimising contact with passengers and locals, and staying in his hotel room throughout, added CAAS.

During his layover in New York, he interacted with the immigration officer and hotel check-in staff and collected his meal from a hotel staff who delivered it to his room, the agency said.

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TEMPORARILY SUSPENDED

On Tuesday, Grab said that the driver had been temporarily suspended from its platform.

“We are in close contact with the MOH and are currently providing all necessary information to support the ministry’s contact tracing efforts,” said Grab in response to CNA’s queries.

“As part of Grab’s ongoing safety precaution measures, the said driver-partner has been temporarily suspended from the Grab platform.”

The driver will be covered under Grab’s Prolonged Medical Leave insurance scheme and is entitled to one-time COVID-19 income support for Grab drivers who are quarantined or hospitalised due to COVID-19, the company added.

“Grab would like to reassure our users that their health and well-being is our priority,” it said, adding that efforts have been made since June to enforce higher safety and hygiene standards for rides, including providing access to free sanitiser and disinfectant at the Grab Driver Centre.

Grab users are also able to cancel a booking if a driver or passenger shows up for a ride without a mask or appears unwell, and can provide feedback on health- and hygiene-related concerns after every ride, the company said.

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