• As BA suspends all flights to Mainland China

AIRPORTS Council International (ACI) World has advised airports at a global scale – not just in China – to take appropriate measures in preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) calling on airport operator and authorities to develop an airport plan, including aspects such as communication, screening, entry / exit controls and coordination with the health authority.

This is as British Airways has suspended all flights to mainland China in January and February.

The new virus, which first appeared in the Chinese city of Wuhan in December, has so far killed 81 people and infected around 3,000 others.

In its newly-released Advisory Bulletin: Transmission of Communicable Diseases, ACI World warned that the outbreak is of considerable concern to the aviation industry, stating: “In the coming days and weeks, ACI expects to see national regulators and health authorities react to the spread of the virus by introducing measures directly affecting aviation and more broadly.

“From an operational perspective, ACI is committed to assisting airports. Airport members are advised to refer to the following guidelines as necessary, that can be found in the Airport preparedness guidelines for outbreaks of communicable disease.”

“The ACI advised that guidelines, published in a report named ‘Advisory Bulletin: Transmission of Communicable Diseases’, should be adapted to the local situation.

“ACI World’s report states that the airport operator and authorities should develop an airport plan, including aspects such as communication, screening, entry / exit controls and coordination with the health authority.

It also states that relevant information regarding the disease and symptoms should be shared with passengers using social media, radio and signage in the airport.

Screening measures adopted by airports should be complementary to the type of communicable disease in order to reduce its international spread.

However, the organisation stated that if the transmission of the disease has occurred during the incubation period, the impact of screening is expected to be significantly lowered.

This is expected to have happened with the coronavirus, but local requirements should be followed.

Airports have been asked to refer to the guidelines for airport preparedness by ACI World.

ACI World Director General, Angela Gittens said: “The health and welfare of travellers, staff and the public, and to reduce the opportunities for dissemination of communicable diseases, are the priorities for the aviation industry following the recent novel coronavirus outbreak.

“The guidance we have issued today reiterates a number of options and best practices that airports and national authorities can use to protect against communicable diseases that might pose a serious risk to public health.

“The recommendations are designed to reduce exposure to an infectious agent at airports and to improve the response to health-related emergencies by establishing standards and procedures for rapid decision-making and action.”

Airports around the world have started screening passengers for the deadly coronavirus.

China has enforced transport restrictions to different cities, including Wuhan, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, due to the outbreak, British Airways has suspended all direct flights to and from mainland China as concerns grow over the coronavirus outbreak.

The move comes after the UK government warned against all but essential travel to the country, where 132 people have been killed by the rapidly spreading disease.

BA’s website shows no direct flights to mainland China available in January or February. The UK’s flag carrier usually operates daily flights from Heathrow Airport to Shanghai and Beijing.

“We apologise to customers for the inconvenience, but the safety of our customers and crew is always our priority,” the airline in a statement on Wednesday. “Customers due to travel to or from China in the coming days can find more information on BA.com.”


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