SOME airlines at Changi Airport have started tighter screening for passengers who might have Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).
There were signs on Saturday that some airline staff were trying to follow World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines. But not all carriers were doing so.
WHO wants airlines to ask travellers if they have SARS symptoms, or if they or family members have been near SARS patients.
Passengers checking in at Singapore Airlines (SIA) and Qantas counters were greeted with placards displaying these questions, while some travellers boarding United Airlines and Cathay Pacific flights said they were asked if they had flu symptoms.
Several airlines, such as SIA and Cathay Pacific, also said they were keeping close tabs on passengers – from check-in to their destinations.
SIA spokesman Rick Clements said cabin crew have been told to ask passengers who were ill to put on face masks, and to offer masks to those sitting near them.
Other precautions were also being taken.
For example, a meal tray used by a sick passenger would be sealed in a plastic bag, and one of the toilets on the plane would be kept locked, to be used only by the sick person.
SIA cabin crew have also been given guidelines on protecting themselves from infection.
Overall, quarantine surveillance at Changi Airport was lax. Only a handful of passengers, mostly arriving from Hong Kong, said they were queried on SARS – and this was done back in Hong Kong. – The Straits Times/Asia News Network
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