Singapore

ComfortDelGro trials shields to protect drivers from infection

Taxi giant ComfortDelGro will install 400 of its 10,000 cabs with plastic shields that separate the driver from passengers.

It said yesterday that the move is a trial to see how drivers and commuters respond to the protective barrier.

The shield is made of a hard, transparent plastic material that "aims to minimise contact between cabbies and their passengers, and hopefully reduce the spread of Covid-19", ComfortDelGro said, adding that each shield costs around $200.

Cabbies and private-hire drivers were among the first to be infected when the virus surfaced in Singapore in January.

ComfortDelGro said installation has started, and about 50 taxis will be fitted each week.

Called V-shield, the locally manufactured shields have been trademarked by Moove Media, a wholly owned subsidiary of ComfortDelGro.

The shield, measuring 1m by 0.7m by 0.6m,has two openings for passengers to make payment.

The shields are said to be unbreakable, which allows them to also serve as an added protection against any "violent physical harm".

The shield encases only the driver's area and does not obstruct airflow in the rest of the cab, the company said.

ComfortDelGro Taxi chief executive Ang Wei Neng said: "Our cabbies are exposed to passengers throughout the day and night.

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"While our drivers take as much precaution as they can by wearing masks and constantly disinfecting their cabs, there is still a risk. These shields will further reduce that level of risk as they serve as an added layer of protection for the cabbies."

Earlier this month, the Royal Thai Air Force unveiled plastic shields for taxis in Thailand.

Cabby Henry Tay, 49, said the shield is no guarantee against infection.

"Even well-equipped medical staff get infected," he said.

"My concern is drivers and passengers may assume they will be safe with the shield. Then, they may take things too lightly."

Mr Tay added that personal measures are more important.

"Every time a passenger alights, I lower all the windows and disinfect the entire taxi with Dettol before picking up another passenger."

Transport