SINGAPORE: Precautionary measures for all flights from China are in place, Singapore-based airlines told CNA on Wednesday (Jan 22), as the world struggles to contain a deadly coronavirus following an outbreak in China.
The virus which has been traced to a seafood market in the central city of Wuhan has killed nine people and infected hundreds in China, while cases have been detected in parts of Asia and the US.
With travel to and from China expected to increase ahead of the Chinese New Year, Singapore Airlines and Scoot have implemented measures that include standard protocol for suspected cases of the coronavirus, inflight health advisories and temperature screening of passengers on the ground.
Scoot said inflight announcements have been aired for passengers flying to and from China from Wednesday.
These announcements remind passengers to inform Chinese customs officials if they experience fever and shortness of breath upon arriving in China, and to visit a doctor if they become unwell within two weeks of returning to Singapore, the airline said.
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Disinfectants, hand sanitisers and surgical masks have been made available for all crew and passengers onboard all China flights, with a disinfection protocol in place for any suspected cases on board a flight, said a Scoot spokesperson.
These measures have been in place for Wuhan flights since January, but will now be expanded to all China flights, the spokesperson added.
Singapore Airlines (SIA) said that it already has standard operating procedures for “various inflight medical emergencies”, which include “potentially infectious diseases”. Medical personnel will attend to unwell passengers immediately upon landing.
The airline also has inflight announcements about the virus on all flights to and from Singapore. Crew members on flights to affected places are also being given surgical masks, added the SIA spokesperson.
There are more than 430 flights from China each week, Changi Airport said in a Facebook post. The airport has set up 35 temperature screeners across its four terminals for arriving passengers.
The Health Ministry (MOH) on Wednesday said that it had broadened the definition of suspected cases to include those with pneumonia and travel history to China within 14 days before onset of symptoms, or those with acute respiratory infection who have been to a Chinese hospital within 14 days before onset of symptoms.
Only suspected cases will be placed in isolation, it added.
The ministry will also implement temperature screening to all travellers arriving from China, with suspected cases referred to hospitals. Health advisories will be issued to all travellers from China and distributed at land and sea checkpoints.
For confirmed cases, MOH said it will implement “strict isolation, quarantine, and infection control and preventive measures to prevent further transmission”.
China first reported the outbreak of the virus in Wuhan on Dec 31, 2019.
Genetic similarity between the Wuhan virus and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) sparked fears of another deadly outbreak with the Chinese New Year festivities ahead which will see millions travel within and out of China.
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