The Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) has urged people who are feeling unwell not to fly or go to airports. The body has highlighted that, while airlines are taking all possible measures to contain the Covid-19 disease, passengers also have to display responsibility.
The region’s airlines have been implementing precautionary measures against the spread of the disease, following the recommendations of the World Health Organisation, the US Centres for Disease Control, the South African Department of Health (National Institute of Communicable Diseases) and the International Air Transport Association. These measures include cleaning and sanitising aircraft cabins (including galleys, catering equipment, overhead baggage storage hatches, lavatories, window blinds, seats, seat-back trays and safety belts).
“Airlines throughout Southern Africa are complying with stringent international and local health and safety measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, but we urge any passengers who are feeling unwell, displaying any respiratory illness symptoms, or who may have come into contact with a carrier of the Coronavirus, not to travel to airports or board flights,” affirmed AASA CEO Chris Zweigenthal. “Similarly, people who have recently travelled and who subsequently display symptoms suggestive of respiratory illness, should seek medical attention and share their travel history with their health care provider.”
Airliner cabins are actually safer than most public areas on the ground. In modern airliners, the cabin air is continually scrubbed, recirculated and replaced, passing through hospital operating theatre-grade HEPA air filters. Also, at South African airports, workers have been supplied with latex gloves and facemasks and are applying hygiene-maintenance and infection risk-reduction procedures.
However, if a person infected with Covid-19 is on an airliner, there will be an increased risk for the other passengers. Consequently, good personal hygiene – such as covering coughs and sneezes, and regular hand washing with soap and water – and common sense are essential.
“Despite these various measures, among confirmed Covid-19 cases in South Africa are people who recently travelled by air and who may have infected other passengers on the same flights,” he highlighted. “For this reason we are appealing to all travellers to act responsibility. If you are unwell, please don’t fly. Instead, please see a doctor.”