MALAYSIA Airlines has adopted a series of measures to deliver safe and best-in- class service to passengers, allowing them to travel with peace of mind in view of the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019- nCoV) outbreak. This includes control measures to lower the risk of on-board disease transmission such as preparing medical communicable disease kits in every aircraft to cater to ill passengers.
The national airline is also carrying out temperature screening for all passengers travelling to and from China to meet the requirements outlined by China’s Customs, Immigration, and Quarantine Authority. “All passengers are advised to arrive early at the airport and head to the boarding lounge 90 minutes prior to departure where the screening will be conducted,” said the airline’s advisory. To protect the safety and interests of passengers and crew, Malaysia Airlines has advised those with symptoms of fever, cough, or breathlessness to postpone their travels to avoid being denied boarding and entry to China.
On Jan 28, the Ministry of Health Malaysia mandated anyone originating, residing, or traveling from China within the past 14 days to identify themselves to health authority personnel before approaching the Immigration counters at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Passengers would then be provided with a health alert card. “Those suffering from fever, difficulty in breathing, and cough, are also required to identify themselves for further health screening by the health authority,” added the advisory. All passengers will undergo body temperature screening at thermal scanner counters in KLIA, while for those from China screening is conducted by China’s health authority.
Malaysia Airlines has also explained that the air in an aircraft is recirculated and filtered regularly by High- Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters. Passengers are therefore less likely to be exposed to bacteria and viruses. The cabin’s air is changed 20 to 30 times per hour and 50 per cent of the cabin air is recirculated through the HEPA filters, whereas used air is expelled from the aircraft.
“In fact, because of the high-efficiency filters and frequent air circulation, the air you’re breathing on your flight is likely much cleaner than most office buildings and is on par with the air in most hospitals,” Malaysia Airlines said in a Facebook post. Malaysia Airlines has also illustrated the air-circulation patterns in a typical single-deck and double-deck aircraft
All hard surfaces are cleaned, wiped down, and disinfected with approved disinfectants after each flight, in addition to periodic cleaning of lavatories every 35 minutes by crew members during flights to reduce the risk of 2019-nCoV. “We work closely with all destination health authorities to ensure our passengers and crew are safe and comfortable,” said the airline.
Malaysia Airlines is guided by aviation health procedures put in place by the Ministry of Health Malaysia, World Health Organisation (WHO), and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) when having contact with potentially infectious travellers. The airline has also notified cabin crew of a modified cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) technique, where mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is no longer done and is replaced with the use of the Bag Valve Mask. Malaysia Airlines has also ceased nightstops at Beijing Daxing and Shanghai Pudong airports to limit the risk of exposure to infection to both crew and assets.
The national carrier has also outlined travel recommendations for passengers so they can better protect themselves and others, as well as prevent the spread of 2019-nCoV. Passengers are advised to practise cough and sneezing etiquette, as well as avoid individuals showing symptoms of fever, runny nose, and cough.