IT is only natural that people are fearful of travelling these days, especially when there is so much misinformation on the novel coronavirus outbreak.
You may be concerned about contracting germs when travelling on a plane, being at an airport in close proximity with strangers or using a travel route which may expose you to the outbreak.
To allay the fears of its customers, Malaysia Airlines Bhd (MAS) posted a travel safety statement on Facebook, which has received over 3,000 likes in just three days, confirming that travellers are thirsty for information and assurance of their safety.
According to its aircraft manufacturers, the air you breathe onboard MAS aircrafts is recirculated and filtered regularly by high-efficiency particulate air (Hepa) filters, which means you are less likely to be exposed to things like bacteria and viruses through the recycled air. In fact, MAS said, the air is likely to be much cleaner than most office buildings and is on par with the air in most hospitals.
While most people responded positively, some feel that this would only make people less careful, but MAS is not about to let their guard down. The airline goes on to make the assurance that it is guided by aviation health procedures placed by the World Health Organisation and the International Civil Aviation Organisation when interacting with a potentially infectious traveller.
As such, it has placed control measures to reduce the risk of onboard disease transmission, which includes providing medical communicable disease kit in every aircraft to cater to passengers who are ill.
The airline’s staff is also well-trained to be vigilant when it comes to identifying passengers with signs of being ill.
A case in point would be Malaysia Airlines flight MH376 to Guangzhou, which made a turn-back to Kuala Lumpur on Feb 2, after a passenger onboard was reported to be unwell.
The passenger from China was previously held in Malaysia for “Supervision and Observation at Home” under Section 15(1) Prevention and Control of Infectious Disease Act 1988 (Act 342) between Jan 23 and Feb 1,2020. The passenger has since been released and allowed to travel back to China, as authorised by Pejabat Kesihatan Kepong.
In the interest of passenger and crew safety, as well as comfort, however, the commander of the flight made a decision to return to the KL International Airport (KLIA) and hand over the passenger to health authorities, when the passenger began throwing up.
Upon inspection by the health office of KLIA, the passenger was cleared to fly while the aircraft cabin was disinfected.
The airline is also conducting temperature screening for all passengers travelling to and from mainland China.
Since Jan 28 this year, the Health Ministry requires anyone originating, residing or travelling from China within the last 14 days to identify themselves to health authority officials before the immigration counters at KLIA. Passengers will be provided with a Health Alert Card. All passengers arriving at KLIA are also subjected to body temperature screening at thermal scanner counters prior to Immigration check.
A travel advisory from the airline states that those with symptoms of fever, cough and breathlessness are strongly advised to postpone their travels to prevent being denied boarding and entry into China.
While MAS is doing its part in ensuring travel safety, travellers should continue to take precautions and be responsible when travelling, especially when it comes to understanding how respiratory illnesses are commonly spread and doing what you can to stay safe.
Reduce your risk by cleaning your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rubs; cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing; and avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms.
For more information on preventive measures and updates on travel, visit the MAS website (search for coronavirus) or its official Facebook page.