DGCA asks airlines, airports to take safety measures to fight coronavirus

On Monday, India reported two fresh cases of coronavirus from Delhi and Telangana

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The immediate concern of the Tamil Nadu government is to screen all the passengers arriving to the state and keep track of the infected COVID cases, if any. File photo: PTI

Amid a coronavirus scare, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday (March 3) asked airlines and airports to take specific measures such as providing protective gears like surgical masks and gloves to crew members and passengers and having multiple hand sanitising points at terminals.

The aviation regulator stated that airports and airlines must ensure that each aircraft arriving from South Korea, Japan and Italy is subjected to disinfection process before boarding begins for the next flight on the plane.

On planes operating on international routes, boarding of passengers for the next flight should begin only after thermal scanning and immigration clearance is completed of disembarking passengers, the DGCA noted.

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In case any passenger is suspected to be infected by the coronavirus, the disinfection process must be carried out on that plane, it stated.

On Monday, India reported two fresh cases of novel coronavirus — one infected person came to Delhi on February 25 after visiting Italy and another one came to Hyderabad on February 20 from Dubai via Bengaluru.

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The DGCA circular stated on Tuesday, “All ground handling staff entering inbound and outbound international flights shall be provided with personnel protective equipment (PPE) and such PPE shall be disposed of in an appropriate manner after each flight.”

PPE stands for protective gears like surgical masks, gloves, disposable shoe covers, it said.

The regulator asked the airlines to ensure that crew members on all flights practice personal hygiene, adding that it is “advisable” that PPE are used by crew members on all flights.

Traceability of crew should be well documented in the event of crew members being exposed to a suspected novel coronavirus case, said the DGCA circular that was addressed to all airlines, airports and ground handling agencies.

Staff working in airports different departments – immigration, health, security, check-in counter, etc – must be provided PPE, the DGCA said.

“Adequate hand sanitising facilities should be made available at multiple locations including check-in counters, terminal exit areas, at thermal screening points, etc, for the use of staff and passengers,” the regulator ordered.

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It added, “Operators to ensure that adequate PPE are available onboard all the aircraft for distribution to passengers on need or request basis for international and domestic sectors.”

This comes after the Indian Association of Tour Operators (IATO) on Tuesday asked the government to screen all travellers coming to India, irrespective of which country they are coming from amid rising number of coronavirus cases.

“IATO has learnt from its members and travellers that there is weak or no screening being done at Indian airports upon arrival at international airports other than the nationals from the affected countries,” the association said in a statement.

It was thought that India is relatively safe with no cases of COVID-19 virus being reported but the scenario has changed in the last two days with cases being detected in various parts of the country, it said. “In view of this fast-moving development, IATO urges government to screen all travellers irrespective of the country from where they are travelling to India,” the statement said.

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IATO said that at some of the international airports in other countries, thermal screening is being done for everyone in the flight starting from cockpit crew, cabin crew and all the passengers. This is being done inside the aircraft before passengers de-board the aircraft.

Keeping in view the sensitivity of the matter and risk involved, IATO said, “All the international travellers, including aircraft crew members, should be screened upon arrival from all the countries in similar way to avoid outbreak or spreading of coronavirus in our country.”

“There must be 100 per cent screening for all the international travellers at all international airports in India and no flight must be excluded as we get airlines flying in from hubs that have passengers from all over the world,” it added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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