Wuhan virus outbreak: SIA takes measures to protect passengers and crew

Wan Ting Koh
Reporter
(PHOTO: Singapore Airlines Airbus A380/Getty Images)

SINGAPORE – Singapore Airlines (SIA) has put in place measures to handle medical emergencies including potentially infectious diseases amid the outbreak of the coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan. 

In a statement to Yahoo News Singapore on Wednesday (22 January), SIA said that unwell passengers would be attended to by medical authorities when the aircraft lands. Passenger or crew members who felt unwell and had travelled to China were “strongly advised to promptly seek medical attention, and report their travel history”, an SIA spokesperson said.

Inflight announcements regarding the virus will also be made on all flights to and from Singapore, it added. 

Surgical masks will be made available to airline crew who are operating where necessary, the spokesperson said.

“The safety of our crew and passengers is our highest priority. We are working closely with the authorities to take measures to minimise the spread of the coronavirus. This includes proactive screening of passengers on the ground and distribution of a health advisory notice by Singapore’s Ministry of Health.”

SIA did not answer questions on whether flights to China have been affected since the announcement of the virus by the World Health Organization on 31 December last year. 

Earlier Wednesday, Yahoo News Singapore reported that budget carrier Scoot had not cancelled any of its flights to China including Wuhan.

Scoot has expanded its health advisory measures to all China flights as of Wednesday, and the airline has stocked up on surgical masks and hand sanitisers for crew and passengers. 

On Wednesday, Chinese authorities announced that 17 people had died in Hubei province, home to Wuhan, from the coronavirus, and 471 people across 13 Chinese provinces had been confirmed to be infected.

They also warned that the still-unidentified virus, recently confirmed to be transmissible between humans, could mutate.

Over the past week, at least 10 cases have been confirmed beyond mainland China, including the US, Thailand, South Korea, and Japan.

In Singapore, three more suspected cases with pneumonia have been admitted for further assessment and treatment as well as isolated as a precautionary measure here.

Previously, seven suspected cases in Singapore have been declared negative of the new coronavirus strain, which likely originated from a seafood market in Wuhan.

The virus belongs to the same family of viruses as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people globally during a 2002-2003 outbreak and also started in China.

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