Coronavirus: Airlines ask passengers to self isolate after flyers test positive for virus

Several airlines have now been affected

Qin Xie
Wednesday 04 March 2020 16:14
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Thousands of flights around the world have been cancelled due to coronavirus, as the outbreak continues to spread.

But for those who still have travel plans, there’s a new worry.

Some air passengers have been told by airlines and authorities to self-isolate for 14 days when their fellow travellers have tested positive for coronavirus after a flight.

Many of these flights took place towards the end of February, but confirmed cases of the virus are only now coming to light.

These are the major airlines asking passengers to self isolate.

Virgin Australia

One of the most recent is a Virgin Australia flight from Melbourne to Tasmania.

A 40-year-old passenger on flight VA1368 on 29 February has tested positive for the virus, known as Covid-19, reports Daily Mail Australia.

The man, who has not been identified, had recently visited Iran and is now being treated at Launceston General Hospital.

A total of 140 passengers were on board the flight and authorities are working to trace those affected.

The Independent has approached Virgin Australia for comment.

Qantas

A number of Qantas flights from Asia have been affected.

A man who had flown into Sydney from Singapore on flight QF82 on 1 March has tested positive for the illness.

He had previously been to Iran, before transiting through Malaysia and Singapore on Jetstar Asia Airways flight 3K686, reports SBS.

Passengers on flight QF02 from Singapore to Sydney on 28 February are also at risk after a man in his fifties tested positive.

He was said to have been experiencing symptoms while on the flight.

Qantas told The Independent that it is carrying out additional cleaning on affected aircraft as a precaution.

The airline had been scheduled to operate a fight to London on 4 March, which had to be cancelled due to the extra cleaning.

Air New Zealand

Several Air New Zealand flights have been affected after a female passenger boarded a number of flights with the airline within a week.

The woman, who has reportedly been on holiday in northern Italy, had flown to New Zealand from Singapore on flight NZ283 on 25 February according to SCMP.

She then travelled from Auckland to Palmerston North and back on 2 March on flights NZ5103 and NZ8114.

Air New Zealand​ spokes person told The Independent: “Air New Zealand is assisting the Ministry of Health to contact customers who travelled onboard the relevant flights.

“The people most at risk of catching COVID-19 are those who came in close contact with the passenger. For example; a passenger in the same row of seats, the two rows in front and the two rows behind. These customers in the affected cabin are being notified directly by health professionals.

“We are contacting all cabin crew who worked on those flights and they may be required to self-isolate on a case-by-case basis. We will keep in regular contact with them to check on their well-being. ”

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Qatar Airways

Passengers who travelled on Qatar Airways flight QR908 from Doha to Sydney on 23 February could also be affected.

A woman in her fifties, who had flown from Iran via Qatar to Sydney, began showing symptoms after her journey and has since tested positive for coronavirus.

A spokesperson for Qatar Airways told The Independent: “The safety, security and good health of our passengers and employees is our highest priority.

“Qatar Airways is working closely with global and local Health Authorities to stop the spread of coronavirus. If you have any concerns about your own health following your travel schedule, we recommend you speak with your local medical facility or authorities for further guidance.”

Should I still travel if I have flights booked?

The FCO has updated its travel advice in response to the coronavirus outbreak and you should check the latest advice for the destination you’re travelling to.

If the Foreign Office has warned against travel to a destination, you’re advised to cancel your plans, as your travel insurance won’t be valid and you won’t be entitled to help from the British Embassy while abroad – although it’s likely your travel agent, tour operator or airline has already contacted you about any cancellations, and you should be entitled to a full refund.

For destinations without a travel advisory, flights and holidays may proceed as normal. Holidaymakers are entitled to cancel their holiday but aren’t guaranteed any reimbursement from their travel agent or tour operator, although some airlines are letting passengers change their flights to later in the year for free.

There are many destinations around the world that haven’t been affected by coronavirus yet; however, those travelling through an airport could come into contact with someone who is infected or who has just travelled from an affected destination.

The risks are relatively low, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) says that washing your hands regularly with soap and water is the most effective way to avoid catching Covid-19.

Airlines have stepped up cleaning routines for their planes, and travellers can also reduce the risk of infection by disinfecting their plane seat.

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