Schools reopen as Singapore eases lockdown restrictions

Students wearing protective face masks attend a class at Yio Chu Kang Secondary School, as schools reopen amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Singapore June 2, 2020. (Reuters)
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Updated 02 June 2020

Schools reopen as Singapore eases lockdown restrictions

  • School students were urged to maintain a safe distance as they lined up to return to class
  • Singapore has said it will ease restrictions gradually

SINGAPORE: With temperatures checked, masks fitted, and hand sanitizers at the ready, many Singapore children returned to school on Tuesday after a novel coronavirus lockdown of nearly two months.
Across the island, the hum of the morning rush hour resumed while staff at schools urged students to maintain a safe distance as they lined up to return to class.
With one of the highest coronavirus tallies in Asia, Singapore has said it will ease restrictions gradually, with the registry of marriages and some businesses, including pet salons, also reopening on Tuesday.
“You have to restart your normal life at some point,” said Harsha Yavagal, who was sending his boys aged five and 12 back to school.
“Schools are taking all possible measures to cope with the virus,” he said.
Studies in some European countries have shown reopening schools has not led to a rise in coronavirus infections, while other studies have shown fewer cases of the disease among children compared with adults.
But Singapore is not taking any chances.
At one secondary school, Reuters observed the precision of the “new normal” morning routine.
After a bell, students sang the national anthem through face masks that are required by law. The teacher then asked everyone in the class to put thermometers in their mouths and he went desk-to-desk noting temperatures.
The students then cleaned their thermometers with an alcohol wipe and, one-by-one, dropped the wipes in a bin.
Recesses will be staggered and children will have to sit apart at the canteen, the teacher said, then asked students to respond to an online poll via their smartphones about how they felt about returning to school.
The results appeared on a screen behind him: more than half said they were happy with a further third “very happy.”
Singapore has recorded more than 35,000 coronavirus cases and 24 deaths. Most cases have been among migrant workers living in dormitories.


Malaysia to reinstate pilots once Pakistani licenses OK’d

Updated 07 July 2020

Malaysia to reinstate pilots once Pakistani licenses OK’d

  • 30 percent of pilots grounded including 107 in foreign airlines

KUALA LUMPUR: The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) will reinstate Pakistani pilots as soon as Pakistani authorities verify their permits, an official told Arab News on Monday, after their temporary suspension due to a fake license scandal. 

Pakistan grounded almost 30 percent of its pilots last week after the country’s Aviation Minister Ghulam Sarwar Khan said that they might have falsified their qualifications. 

Pakistan has 860 pilots, 107 of whom work for foreign airlines.

“The CAAM has sent two letters requesting verification from PCAA (Pakistani Civil Aviation Authority) as well as to inform them on the temporary suspension of Pakistani license holders in Malaysia,” Nurilya Anis Rahim, a public relations officer at CAAM, said in an email. 

Rahim added that the pilots’ licenses had been put on hold until further information from the PCAA.

“We are currently still waiting for a response from PCAA. Once an official confirmation has been made, we will reinstate these pilots with immediate effect.”

Captain Chester Voo, CAAM CEO, announced that it would temporarily suspend 20 Pakistani pilots employed with “local operators” such as flying schools, flying clubs and training organizations.

Rahim said that the decision was taken to ensure the safety and security of Malaysia’s civil aviation industry. 

“It is to ensure that all employed pilots in this country hold a valid license and abide by Malaysia’s Civil Aviation Regulation.”

The UK, EU and Vietnam have banned Pakistani pilots and barred Pakistan International Airlines’ (PIA) operations as well.

One analyst said that Malaysia’s stand was part of its “zero-compromises” approach.

“Malaysia has always taken a conservative stance which includes a zero-compromise on the integrity of certification and qualification of pilots,” Rizal Kamaruzzaman, a Malaysian aviation expert and executive director of Tindakan Strategi, told Arab News.

He added that the joint verification approach was an excellent opportunity for regulators in Pakistan and Malaysia to “clean” the register and weed out all pilots with dubious qualifications. 

“The move by the CAAM will also alert the rest of the airlines and general aviation aircraft to review the technical crew manifest flying into Malaysia and will definitely have a ripple effect on the aviation sector.”

He urged aviation regulators from other countries to learn a lesson from Pakistan.

“The trust and mutual recognition among regulators are a sacred pact to ensure safety for aircraft, pilots, crews, engineers and the main client that are the passengers are not compromised anywhere around the world,” he said.

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