Garuda Indonesia has grounded an aircraft used for flight GA858 following reports that a Chinese national who had tested positive for the new coronavirus was on board on the Bali-Shanghai flight on Jan. 28.
Garuda director of operations Tumpal M. Hutapea said in press release on Thursday that the airline would decontaminate the aircraft by spraying disinfectant “to ensure the cleanliness of the flight’s cabin and to sterilize it against bacteria”.
The procedure would also be carried out on the plane’s cargo area, he said.
Besides disinfecting the plane, Tumpal said Garuda would also change the aircraft’s High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) air filter, a standard feature installed on every Garuda aircraft to kill viruses and bacteria within the cabin.
“Efforts being carried out are in line with [those used to prevent the] coronavirus epidemic in a number of countries. We are doing this as part of our commitment to strengthening anticipatory measures against the virus,” he said. “[The measures] are part of Garuda’s standard safety and sanitation procedures during an epidemic.”
The release did not mention, however, whether the coronavirus patient identified as Jin had indeed boarded the flight, or whether the company would take measures to inform other passengers on the flight that a fellow traveler had tested positive.
Garuda Indonesia representatives did not immediately respond to The Jakarta Post’s request for comment on the matter.
The Huainan Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Feb. 5 that a patient named Jin who had tested positive for the new coronavirus had flown on Lion Air flight JT2618 from Wuhan to Bali on Jan. 22. The patient stayed on the island for about a week before taking a Garuda Indonesia flight GA858 from Bali to Shanghai on Jan. 28.
The center urged passengers of the two flights to impose self-quarantine measures, head to a hospital wearing a mask if they have a fever and avoid public transportation.
The release did say that Garuda Indonesia cabin crew members who serviced the Bali-Shanghai route were subjected to “routine health check-ups” at the airport’s Port Health Authority (KKP) before and after their duties.
“Garuda Indonesia ensured that all passengers on flights to and from China had undergone the profiling and medical check procedures conducted by relevant authorities at the airport,” Tumpal said.
Garuda Indonesia has temporarily halted all flights to and from China since Feb. 5, in line with the government’s policy in regards to the outbreak.(ydp)