Probably most of us already noticed that something worrying is happening right now in China. More than 2000 people have been infected by a dangerous Wuhan Coronavirus, 56 of them died. Cases of illness have already been reported in several different places around the world. In search of the virus source, researchers came to the city of Wuhan. Being more specific to the local seafood market that was illegally selling wildlife. I respect all cultures and their habits but what people from these regions are able to eat often makes me nauseous. Of course, the article is not about my personal taste preferences. It’s about the huge threat we are currently facing. How we should approach it and how the aviation world reacts to events in China.
First of all a few facts about the Wuhan Coronavirus by itself. The symptoms of this disease are similar to pneumonia. Fever, cough, and shortness of breath that’s the most common of them. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) believes that symptoms of illness may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 after exposure.
Presently, Wuhan and the whole Hubei province is quarantined. Inhabitants cannot leave this area without important reasons. Public transport does not work. Train stations and airports are closed, as well as many institutions. It is not possible to enter that area from outside. I can imagine that there is a lot of fear around and Wuhan and it’s surroundings looks a bit like from one of those catastrophic movies. However, we should keep it in mind that this area is not on the list of most visited places by tourists. Therefore the protective measures taken in Hubei do not directly affect the plans of most people going to China in the near future. Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Hainan or Chengdu all those cities have also their own cases of illness. That is why it’s a bit more complicated and challenging to isolate the threat. On this website, you can monitor how much this virus is developing globally. If in your nearest plans there is a journey to one of the affected places, maybe postpone it for a while if possible.
Precautions for travelers
In this case, we should simply follow the standard recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) which include:
- Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
- When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – throw the tissue away immediately and wash hands;
- Avoid close contact with anyone who has a fever and cough;
- If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early
- Share previous travel history with your health care provider;
- When visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of a novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals;
- The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.
Aviation world reacts
Of course, it affects aviation. When in 2003 we were witnesses of a similar epidemic – SARS. For many years after, we thought that the outbreaks of this disease appeared chaotically. Until someone had compared it with the airline’s flight networks. Unfortunately, planes allow all kinds of diseases to spread around the world in a very fast way. Even if the quality of aircraft cabin air is carefully controlled. Even if the recirculated air usually passing through HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters. Transmission of infection may occur between passengers quite easily usually as a result of the infected individual coughing or sneezing or by touch.
That is why…!
We can observe globally that all flights from China (especially from Wuhan) are right now subject to special control at the airports. Many airports implemented special procedures for people traveling from there. Screening of passengers for potential infections, coughs, breathing difficulties or sore throats. Istanbul airport implemented laser thermometers. Same as Singapore and Malaysia. Rome Leonardo da Vinci airport is sending suspected infections directly to disease hospital in Rome for quarantine. In South Korea in addition to temperature checks, all handrails, elevator buttons, and doors or any other sensitive areas are wiped with disinfectant twice a day. CDC in the United States has developed a special testing kit that is distributed through many airports including New York JFK, Los Angeles or San Francisco. So don’t be surprised if airports will treat you in a different way than usual. Be responsible! submit to the required checks.
Instructed their personnel, cabin and cockpit crew who fly to or from China for increased attention. Many of the airlines reviewed and updated their personal protection policies. As well as communicate and train their employees on how to manage sick travelers. Cathay Pacific Airways allowed their cabin crew to wear protective face masks on flights to China. Korean Air Lines disinfect their aircraft every day. Finnair or Etihad had just join already announced Delta, United Airlines or Lufthansa and allowed passengers to rebook or refund their tickets to China. Currently, it looks like everyone is doing what can do to stop spreading the Wuhan Coronavirus. More details regarding rebooking or refunding of tickets for Chinese and American airlines you will find on thepointsguy website.
Maybe I am not a specialist in medicine and maybe this article won’t reach many people. But I believe that even if only one person gets something from this post and contributes to the global fight against this new, dangerous Wuhan Coronavirus, it can be considered as a success.
Stay safe and stay tuned!