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Airlines are focusing on preventing the spread of coronavirus

In the wake of the coronavirus outbreak, airlines around the world are taking their own precautions to protect passengers from disease spread

Flights to and from China have plummeted across the world as airlines aim to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. 

The new travel rules that were implemented by the U.S. Department of State on Jan. 31 prohibit anyone that has been to China to the U.S. in the last 14 to 21 days, according to USA Today.

American Airlines, Finnair, Air France-KLM, and Korean Air are among the airlines that have suspended flights to China, according to World Airline News

On Monday, NBC News reported 361 deaths and 17,205 confirmed cases of the virus in China. In the U.S., the number of cases increased from eight to 11 on Sunday after three people tested positive for the virus in Northern California, according to health officials. 

Signs of infection of the virus include respiratory symptoms, fever, cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and that symptoms of the virus can take up to 14 days to appear.

Last month, the CDC issued a list of non-mandatory recommendations for airlines to monitor passengers for symptoms, according to Business Insider. The recommendations also highlighted federal regulations that require airlines to report passengers with a certain criteria of symptoms to the CDC before landing in the U.S. 

“Passengers who have been in China with a fever that’s lasted for more than 48 hours, or a fever plus a cough, difficulty breathing, or who appear “obviously unwell,” all fit the criteria, even on flights that are not directly from China,” David Slotnick, a reporter for Business Insider said Monday.  

Several airlines have been taking their own precautions to prevent the spread of disease. 

Hong Kong based Cathay Pacific announced it will no longer offer hot towels, pillows, blankets magazines to passengers on Cathay Pacific and subsidiary Cathay Dragon flights to and from mainland China, according to CNN

The airline will also serve meals snacks in disposable bags or on one tray as opposed to continual service on flights. 

“These changes will enable us to provide enhanced protection for our customers and crew while at the same time continuing to deliver a satisfactory inflight experience for passengers,” the airline said in a statement last week.

Thai Airways is outfitting crew members with masks and gloves when flying to “high-risk” areas, and all planes returning from China are being fully disinfected after the flight, according to Business Insider.

Japan Airlines said that cabin crew and airport staff will wear face masks, according to a Jan. 31 release.  

Business Insider also reported that United Airlines is communicating the guidance measures from the CDC to its flight crews, cleaning surfaces touched by passengers and have equipped aircrafts that fly to high-risk regions with supplies to assist sick passengers. 

American Airlines is allowing flight attendants to wear face masks on flights between the U.S., Asia, Australia, and New Zealand and is providing hand sanitizer, according to Business Insider.

Hawaiian Airlines, which told USA Today that they are “closely monitoring” developments surrounding the virus and [is] following CDC guidance, was scrutinized Monday for not allowing crew members to wear face masks on international flights.     

Despite travel restrictions and precautions, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Monday the U.S. will send more flights to China to bring back U.S. citizens from Hubei province, the center of the coronavirus epidemic, according to NBC News. 


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