THE Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) has resolved to indifinitely suspend all airline operations from Wuhan in China, to any point in the Philippines and vice versa as a precautionary measure amid the threat of the novel coronavirus.
This, as Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Ed Monreal ordered the Terminal Managers to ensure all time availability of hand sanitizers in all the four NAIA terminals.
In a briefing with airport stakeholders, the Bureau of Quarantine informed that the best way to protect oneself from acquiring the coronavirus is to practice good hand hygiene and use of alcohol-based sanitizers. Use of face masks was said to be not necessary at this time. Airport staff however are neither discouraged nor encouraged to wear them.
The practice of cough etiquette is also advised. Cough etiquette includes covering one’s mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing, using the nearest waste receptacle to dispose of tissue after use and proper hand hygiene like hand washing with non-antimicrobial soap and water, alcohol-based hand rub, or antiseptic handwash.
Drinking lots of fluid and eating well are also strongly encouraged.
The airport chief also ordered to provide Quarantine with a space for their examination booth to be located within their area and accessible to an exit to the tarmac in case of need to transfer to designated hospitals.
MIAA also assured to help in setting-up of writing desks where passengers arriving from China can fill-out the Health Declaration Card. Coordination with the airline so the cards can be distributed on board is being explored to speed up the process.
Upon request of the Bureau of Quarantine, GM Monreal also directed all Terminal Police chiefs to strictly sanitize the Quarantine areas from other airport personnel including media.
Meanwhile, the CAB said the order to suspend airline operations will be without prejudice to the flights to be made by Royal Air Charter Services on January 24 and 27, 2020 as well as that of Pan Pacific Air on January 23 and 25, 2020 for the sole purpose of ferrying their charter passengers back to Wuhan.
‘Provided, that no passengers shall be carried from its return flight from Wuhan to the Philippines and, provided further, that both airline shall exercise extraordinary vigilance in ensuring the health and safety of its passengers and crews,” the CAB said.
As an additional precautionary measure, the CAB has also ordered all airlines operating in the country to monitor events that will take place in other cities which may be affected by the spread of the novel coronavirus.
‘All air carriers are directed to closely monitor the events that might transpire from other cities which may be affected by the coronavirus and shall take necessary precautions in ensuring that the health and safety of passengers are not jeopardized,” the CAB said.
In his report to Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, CAB Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla said that the move aims to prevent the possible further spread and transmission of the novel coronavirus.
According to Arcilla, two Philippine carriers currently operate regular charter services between Wuhan and Kalibo in Aklan province.
‘Wuhan is the center of the outbreak and the probability of transmission to our country is made highly possible because of the direct flights between Wuhan and Kalibo,” said Arcilla.
Arcilla noted that Scoot Airlines from Singapore and China Airlines of Taiwan, have also suspended their regular flights to Wuhan.
He also assured that the CAB will continue to monitor the unfolding novel coronavirus situation.