In the modern world people travel around the globe, making it difficult to localize outbreaks of infectious diseases — in particular, the threat of coronavirus, which began in Wuhan, China, writes USA Today. About what is happening in the world and how airlines protect passengers and crews, said John Cox, airline captain, retired and head of business safety.
Chinese officials have stopped the trip to Wuhan and back, and also in two neighboring towns and canceled the celebration of the lunar New year to prevent the spread of the virus. The new coronavirus led to the disease more than 4500 people throughout China. Died at least 106 people (information changes quickly), 5 cases were confirmed in the United States — two in California and one in Arizona, Illinois and Washington. More than 50 cases are being investigated in other places in the United States. A small number of confirmed cases diagnosed in Australia, France and several Asian countries, including Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and South Korea.
“All cases of the disease in the USA arrived from Wuhan, China — said in a statement released by the US Centers for control and prevention of diseases. — Can be detected more cases. However, the risk to the U.S. population is still considered low.”
Southwest Airlines reported a sick passenger
The airline is Southwest Airlines which does not fly to China or from China, confirmed that after a flight from Las Vegas to Baltimore, one of the passengers was transferred to local health workers on Saturday, January 25.
“Local medical personnel met the flight 2889 when he arrived Saturday at the international airport Thurgood Marshall Baltimore/Washington from Las Vegas due to reports of unhealthy client, — said the representative of the Southwest Dan Landson. — For extra caution in light of recent concerns related to the coronavirus, our team has followed the recommendations of the Centers for disease control to respond to problems to ensure that the client and those who travel with him get the help or support that may be required”.
Later a press-the Secretary of the Department of health of Maryland Maureen Regan said that although the passenger had recently been in Beijing, he did not meet the CDC criteria for a positive diagnosis and were released.
As passengers and crews of airlines can protect yourself from coronavirus
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from colds to more serious infections such as pneumonia, middle East respiratory syndrome (known as MERS) and severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The initial symptoms of the virus include fever, cough and shortness of breath. But in more serious cases the infection can cause pneumonia, kidney failure or death.
One of the first lines of defense — observation of the passengers and crew members flying from areas where the virus is active. The virus has forced the United States and several other countries to begin this monitoring process.
CDC has established screening centres at five major U.S. airports (airports of Los Angeles and the San Francisco airport and Chicago O’hare, JFK in new York and the Atlanta airport) to check passengers arriving from the affected region in China. CDC also published a list of precautions for travelers.
Since the majority of coronaviruses are spread by airborne droplets (sneezing or coughing) and by contact with an infected person or surface, hand washing is an effective way to reduce the likelihood of infection.
Although CDC does not advise healthy people to wear surgical masks as a precaution, the Agency recommends to use them only to patients who presumably picked up the virus and health workers who interact with them.
On Friday, American Airlines said that flight attendants allowed to wear surgical masks if they are working on flights to Hong Kong, Beijing or Shanghai, after a call from the Association of professional flight attendants to ensure greater crew safety.
If the passenger is experiencing symptoms of the virus, which is officially known as 2019-ncov, he is advised to go to the doctor or emergency room. The infected person should be isolated, wear a mask and frequently wash hands to reduce the chance of spreading the virus.
In its recommendations for cabin crew CDC recommends that airline staff to wash their hands often and use sanitizers for hands alcohol-based.
If a passenger displays symptoms (temperature is above 100.4 F or 38 C, cough or shortness of breath during the flight), the flight attendants should offer him a surgical mask to keep the patient at a distance of not less than 6 feet (1.8 meters) from other passengers, and assign one staff member to care for him.
The designated crew member shall wear a surgical mask, goggles and gown over his uniform. All body fluids should be handled as if they were infectious, and after that, all disposable items that come in contact with the passenger, should be placed in a bag marked biohazard for proper disposal. Then all contaminated surfaces must be cleaned and disinfected in accordance with the Protocol of the airline.
Upon arrival, the staff of the CDC will conduct an evaluation of the passenger to determine whether he should be taken to hospital for further tests and treatment.
“CDC will inform the airline about the results of tests and any necessary follow-up of crew members or the passengers”, — stated in the documentation.
What airlines have learned from past viral outbreaks
Outbreaks of contagious viruses need to be closely monitored by all airlines, regulatory authorities and the world health organization.
In 2002 and 2003 there was a large outbreak of atypical pneumonia that originated in Asia and has led to failures in flight monitoring of passengers and the detention of people who could be exposed to the virus. Sound familiar?
This is due to the fact that many teams for flight operations has updated its procedures for future epidemics or pandemics on the basis of what they learned from the SARS epidemic (an epidemic is when a large number of people are infected at the same time in a certain area, which can spread to the whole world; the pandemic is when an epidemic spreads worldwide; as of January 26, the world health organization said that the coronavirus have not yet acquired pandemic proportions).
In the end, SARS was not a pandemic. However, the virus has infected more than 8,000 people, and the CDC has attributed more than 700 deaths this infection.
The spread of the SARS virus led to the fact that airlines and other flight control centres needed to quickly coordinate with local health authorities to know how to react. These team efforts have not always been smooth.
Today there are more efficient procedure because the plans for emergency response have been enhanced. Accordingly, airlines and crews, flying, carefully monitor passengers for signs of the spread of the virus and report possible cases to the CDC and local officials of public health.
If the coronavirus will become more common and may suffer more airports. But it’s too early to talk about what will be the 2019-ncov. We can only know about the symptoms to pay attention to the news and follow the CDC recommendations and reports on the situation.