Monday, March 11, 2013

Virus watch call goes to flight crews #coronavirus

Monday, March 11, 2013 Flight crews have been urged to be vigilant against the novel coronavirus, the cause of an acute respiratory infection, fever and coughing. There have been 14 cases and eight deaths worldwide, with the Middle East the hardest hit.

Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man called for vigilance after a 31-year-old man - an airline crew member - went to Saudi Arabia between March 4 and 7 and had a fever by Saturday.

He was admitted to the isolation facility at Queen Elizabeth Hospital with what was suspected to be respiratory trouble associated with the virus. But tests showed he was in fact suffering from flu.

His wife, suffering with a cough and sore throat, also tested negative for the virus after going into isolation at the hospital.

Ko noted there have been two scares involving airline crew members and, while both proved negative, authorities are considering stepping up preventive measures. These include shaping a warning, "in particular for inbound air flights and especially from the affected areas."

A spokeswoman for Cathay Pacific said the airline has "clear guidelines" for all crew and frontline staff on handling a suspected infectious disease, and it provides regular updates on the novel coronavirus.

But Julian Yau Chi-hung, vice chairman of Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union, said: "We hope more masks and gloves can be provided to crew members and passengers, particularly on Middle East flights."

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