Safety first on frontlines of transport industry


  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 11 Feb 2020

PETALING JAYA: Transport companies and their employees travelling by land, air and sea are taking preventive measures to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

National Union of Flight Attendants Malaysia (Nufam) president Ismail Nasaruddin said flight crew members have been following basic hygiene recommendations, although they are waiting for guidelines specific to their industry.

“There are basic guidelines (to handling the coronavirus) that we are following as we have gone through outbreaks such as SARS and H1N1 before this, ” he said when contacted yesterday.

He added such guidelines included allowing crew members to wear masks and gloves and to encourage the use of disinfectant gels.

“Crew members are serving passengers and are also involved in the cleaning of the cabin. The crew is focused on serving the passengers but at the same time they must also look after themselves.

“Some airlines may be concerned about their image, where they do not allow crew to wear masks but this is something that you cannot deny them, ” he said.

He added that specific guidelines for flight crew members will be discussed and clarified at an upcoming meeting between aviation industry players this week.

He is concerned whether pilots and flight attendants who travel to and from China would have to be quarantined for two weeks upon their return home to Malaysia.

Pan Malaysia Bus Operators Association president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali said bus operators were encouraged to keep to high hygiene standards to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“We are getting the operators to clean and sanitise their buses after every trip. Many companies have taken precautions.

“Drivers have been briefed on what to do and what not to do in light of the situation, ” he said, adding that some drivers are also wearing masks.

He said their standard operating procedure was for bus drivers to step back from their duties if they feel ill or sickly.

He proposed that thermal scanners be set up at major bus terminals nationwide to contain the spread of the virus.

“I suggest that the screening takes place before passengers board the bus to prevent infections while on the buses, ” he added.

Cruise operators stopping by Malaysia will also be tightening health and safety measures.

Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd, which has cruises to Port Klang and Penang, said it has “rigorous medical protocols” in place to help passengers and crew members who are feeling unwell while sailing.

“Our protocols include professional medical treatment, quarantine of unwell individuals from the general ship population and intensified ship cleaning, air filtration and sanitisation procedures, ” it said in a media statement.

Guests, it added, who had travelled to China, Hong Kong or Macau in the past two weeks, or who had any contact with such individuals, will be denied boarding.

“We are assessing developments constantly and will update these measures as needed, ” it said, adding that those denied boarding will receive full refunds.

Meanwhile, those in other occupations which regularly come into contact with large groups of people are also taking precautionary steps to combat the outbreak.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan said teachers are trained to teach students to take care of their personal hygiene and to be aware of their health and safety. “Teachers are expected to keep abreast of current issues that may affect those under their care. They are asked to isolate students should they contract communicable diseases like measles and chicken pox.

“At times, they are to get the permission of the parents to seek medical help and also ask the parents to bring their children home, ” he said.

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