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Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines contacting seatmates of novel coronavirus patient
Stranded passengers set up camp at the NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay City after their flights were canceled due to the threat of heavy rain and strong winds brought by Typhoon Tisoy.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, File photo

Cebu Pacific, Philippine Airlines contacting seatmates of novel coronavirus patient

Ratziel San Juan (Philstar.com) - January 31, 2020 - 3:11pm

MANILA, Philippines (Update 2, 3:48 p.m.) — Air carriers Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines on Friday said they are trying to reach the passengers who were seated near the 38-year-old Chinese woman, the Philippines’ first confirmed case of 2019 Novel (new) Coronavirus Acute Respiratory Disease or 2019-nCoV ARD, when she boarded their respective planes last week.

Both carriers are cooperating with the Department of Health and the Bureau of Quarantine in order to contact passengers at risk of contracting or even spreading the disease.

"We are in the process of contacting passengers seated in the vicinity of the positive nCoV patient and are taking the necessary precautions to inform them so they can have themselves checked in case they show flu-like symptoms,” Cebu Pacific said in a statement.

"The cabin crew and pilots on affected flights have also been informed and show no symptoms of illness.”

The Cebu Pacific aircraft boarded by the infected patient has since been pulled out and undergoing disinfection.

The Philippines’ largest budget airliner is also implementing preventive measures like cleaning and disinfecting its airplanes in between flights, providing face masks to passengers who show any signs of illness, and ensuring that employees, frontline personnel and cabin crew wear face masks while on duty.

Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines, aside from taking similar preventive measures, is filtering cabin air and has initiated thermal scanning of all arriving passengers on top of airport screening measures.

“We are also working to trace any onward journeys made by these passengers and crew on other flights, in case there is a need for BOQ to contact other people for precautionary medical observation,” Philippine Airlines said in a statement.

“We are taking active guidance from the government authorities and international health experts to ensure the effectiveness of our prevention and mitigation measures...In particular, we have already been implementing a strict policy of not accepting passengers from the Hubei province of China.”

The air carriers have also reduced flights between the Philippines and China starting on February 1 (PAL) and February 3 (CebuPac) respectively.

The infected patient has since been isolated at San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

She arrived in the Philippines on January 21 through Hong Kong from Wuhan City in China, the ground zero of the newly discovered strain of coronavirus.

However, the patient said to be asymptomatic or displaying no symptoms, only sought medical attention on January 25, visiting Cebu and Dumaguete before being admitted.

“We are working closely with the hospital where the patient is admitted and have activated the incident command system of the said hospital for appropriate management, specifically on infection control, case management, and containment," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Thursday.

In a separate statement, the Philippine Airlines acknowledged that the patient was on flight PR 2542 from Dumaguete to Manila on January 25.

The flag carrier said that besides contacting those who were on the flight, it is following the lead of the Bureau of Quarantine in placing concerned passengers and crew under medical observation.

"These passengers will be guided on the next steps. We are also working to trace any onward journeys made by these passengers and crew on other flights, in case there is a need for BOQ to contact other people for precautionary medical observation," PAL said in its advisory.

It also conducted "intensive cleaning" and "thorough disinfection" of the aircraft and filtered cabin air. Aircraft are equipped with circulation systems that refresh the air, making plane cabins safer than other public spaces with no special filtration systems.

2019-NCOV CEBU PACIFIC CEBU PACIFIC AIR NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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