Coronavirus, which is spreading like wildfire, has put several countries on high alert when it comes to the spreading of the deadly Covid-19. The government has taken several steps for passengers coming in from foreign nations to India and issuing a fresh advisory.

As per the revised travel advisory issued on Tuesday by the Union Health Ministry, new travellers from Italy, Iran, South Korea, and Japan will have to apply for fresh visas.

Because the onboard travel staff to various countries is at possible risk of getting the virus; the Director General of Civil Aviation, Government of India, has issued notification for the staff too.

In addition to the previously issued interactions, these guidelines are being issued for the prevention of the spread of Covid-19 for various categories of personnel involved in aircraft operations.

Ground handling staff has to ensure cleaning and disinfection programmes that are critical to ensure the sanitary environment on the aircraft. Unlike routine procedures, post-event disinfection is not a frequent practice and therefore it is important that event-driven procedures for the ground handling personnel are well documented and understood the staff involved in the activity.

suspected coronavirus case at Mumbai airport
Passengers being screened for coronavirus at an airport

Correct usage of personnel protective equipment

Availability and correct usage of personnel protective equipment (PPE) will be given to all personnel involved in the aircraft cleaning activity. PPEs like surgical masks, gloves, disposable shoe covers, etc. will be made available and the staff has to be made aware of the correct usage of the PPE.

The usage of cleaning and disinfectant agents in a post-event scenario should not be detrimental to aircraft materials and provided guidelines have to be used for the same.

The preventive disinfection process of the aircraft should be carried out by the use of an alcohol-based agent as per the WHO guidelines.

All operators have to ensure that aircrafts arriving from South Korea, Japan and Italy are subjected to the disinfection process after arriving in India. All international flights prior to the next movement of the aircraft, boarding of passengers shall commence only after thermal scanning and immigration clearance of the incoming passengers have been obtained.

If any passenger is suspected to carry the virus or showing symptoms, the cleaning and disinfection process of the aircraft will be carried out.

The vehicles utilised for transporting passengers from the aircraft to the terminal building will also be disinfected using the disinfection agent provided. A similar process will be adopted in case a wheelchair is used.

All ground handling staff entering the inbound or outbound international flights will be provided with PPEs, which will be later destroyed.

Crew members are being advised to practice personnel hygiene. They have been told to use PPEs on the flight and on all sectors mentioned in the circular. Infection control measures, including traceability of crew, should be well documented in case of crew members being exposed to a suspected of a confirmed case of Covid-19.

All staff at the airport like immigration, health, security, check-in counter staff, etc. who is exposed to potentially infected passengers or co-workers should be mandatorily provided with PPEs.

Awareness in the form of announcements, banners, posters, etc. should be displayed at prominent places at all airports in India. Adequate hand sanitizing facilities have to be made available at locations like check-in counters, terminal exit areas, at thermal screening points, etc. for the use of staff and passengers. Operators will ensure that adequate PPEs are available onboard all the aircraft for distribution to passengers on need or request basis for both international and domestic sectors.