The travel industry is stepping up precautionary measures against the virus originating from central China that’s killed four people and infected hundreds, with at least one airline starting to equip planes with hazardous-materials suits for cabin crew.
In China, President Xi Jinping ordered resolute efforts to curb the spread of the illness since the disease was first detected in Wuhan, a city of
11 million. Wuhan is now under heavy screening: people found to have symptoms like fever at travel checkpoints are being stopped from boarding planes and trains.
Hong Kong flag carrier Cathay Pacific Airways Ltd said it will be distributing health-declaration forms and providing face masks and antiseptic wipes at boarding gates for travelers from Wuhan. Singapore’s Changi Airport is stepping up surveillance to all passengers from China, rather than just those arriving from Wuhan, from Wednesday.
Complicating matters, hundreds of millions of Chinese are preparing for the Lunar New Year holidays that begins on Friday, when some 3 billion trips are expected to take
place throughout that week, the world’s biggest human migration.
More than 200 people have been confirmed to be infected, with cases detected in Japan, South Korea and Thailand.
Adam Kamradt-Scott, a professor at the University of Sydney, said “simple quarantine and isolation” are the most effective means of tackling outbreaks such as these for now.
Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport rolled out increased surveillance measures.
Airports in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco began screening for the virus on Friday.
Korean Air Lines Co is equipping planes with hazmat suits and plans to carry out daily disinfection of planes flying to Wuhan — as opposed to monthly. The country saw its first confirmed case of the new coronovirus on January 20.
Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe has said the country will step up use of quarantine and testing.
Australian health authorities will help staff monitor travelers returning to Sydney Airport from Wuhan.