Tackling COVID-19: Meet Raj and Changi’s Team BCP

During an outbreak like the current COVID-19 disease, it is critical to implement protective measures at checkpoints to minimise the chances of virus transmission. Since the start of 2020, a team within the Airport Management Division has been tasked with putting in place temperature checks to ensure staff and passenger safety as the airport continues to function.

Jeyaraj Krishnasamy, Airport Operations Manager, was part of the six-member Business Continuity Planning (BCP) team involved in this. 

Jeyaraj (far right) and his colleagues from the Airport Management team posing in front of a temperature scanner they have helped set up

 

For him, implementing these temperature-check stations all over Changi Airport was one of his most significant experiences during the COVID-19 outbreak.

28 January 2020 in particular, was a noteworthy day, Jeyaraj said. It was the day when the Singapore government mandated enhanced temperature checks for all passengers arriving at Changi. This meant more stations had to be set up to screen not just Chinese passengers from China, which was the requirement before that day, but also passengers from all other countries.

Jeyaraj recalls, “The team was given 48 hours to make the switch. To do this, we had to move from conducting temperature screening at the aerobridges to the piers in each terminal, which had never been done before.”

With the time constraint, the team had to act fast to move the scanners to the piers while ensuring passengers arriving from China continued to be screened. At the same time, the team also had to facilitate screening measures for a special flight, led by the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for Singaporeans who were stranded in Wuhan. The team also had to work with the Ministry of Health to ensure that healthcare staff were deployed to Changi in time.  

Squeezing out precious time to celebrate his son’s birthday despite his busy schedule at work

 

“To handle all three sets of operations smoothly, we had to split ourselves into two teams and we all had to work through the night to ensure that all the operations could be set up properly.” That day also happened to be the 11th birthday of Jeyaraj’s son. He enthuses, “Luckily, I did manage to find a one-hour window to rush back home at 10pm to have a slice of cake and wish him a happy birthday.”

 

 ‘In uncharted waters’

The COVID-19 outbreak has had a deep impact on airport operations, Raj explains. The initial impact of COVID-19 was minimal as existing measures were already in place following the MERS-COV outbreak in 2015.

“This started to change when the outbreak worsened and began to spread globally and more travel restrictions were put in place,” Raj points out.

By February 2020, new travel advisories were being issued every few days and the team had to implement the changing advisories in a very short time. “At least for the first month, we were working with many more agencies and internal CAG divisions to coordinate and roll out new measures every other day.”

Raj says the team found themselves in ‘uncharted waters’, but that didn’t stop them from putting in their best.  They paid attention to keeping up with the changes to ensure the entire airport community, including CAG’s partners were aware of the various travel advisories. They also became the de facto ‘helpdesk’ when CAG staff and partners needed clarifications to the changing travel advisories.

In addition, the team worked closely with airline partners to mitigate the impact on passengers who could be affected by the most recent travel advisory even before they arrived in Singapore. “For those who were stranded here, CAG set up temporary holding areas within the terminals to house them more comfortably while we worked with airlines, embassies and ICA to find a solution for them.”

Despite these challenging times, Raj finds his job very rewarding. “This outbreak has made me realise how tightly knit and well-organised CAG is as a company, and how passionate CAG staff are about their work. I get to see many colleagues across all divisions come together to ride this out together and remind each other that this too shall pass. Witnessing this, to me, is the best part of my job.”

 

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