Coronavirus Outbreak (2019-nCoV)

Coronavirus Outbreak (2019-nCoV)

Updated February 20, 2020.

The coronavirus originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China, in December 2019. This page contains the latest information on the outbreak and resources for aviation's first responders. 

LATEST NEWS

Coronavirus updates: 2 passengers die after leaving 'chaotic' quarantined cruise ship, NBC

CDC director: Novel coronavirus 'is probably with us beyond this season, beyond this year', CNN

Huge jump in coronavirus cases and deaths in China as U.S. confirms 15th case, CBS News

Coronavirus updates: 8 more Americans diagnosed on cruise ship as death toll hits 638, NBC News

Flight Attendants Call for Responsible Halt to China Flights, AFA-CWA

The coronavirus outbreak is now a global health emergency, WHO says, VOX

First case of person-to-person transmission of Wuhan virus in the US confirmed, CNN

Communicable Disease Incident Response Checklist >

Flight Attendants Call for Responsible Halt to China Flight

Washington, D.C. (January 31, 2020, 11:30 a.m. ET) — The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO, representing 50,000 Flight Attendants at 20 airlines, issued this statement following last night’s travel advisory change by U.S. State Department to “do not travel to China” and the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the coronavirus is a “global health emergency”:

“AFA is calling for clear direction from our government to U.S. airlines to pull down all travel to China until the spread of coronavirus is contained. The government must work with our airlines to discontinue all service, with consideration for evacuation of flight crew, and with consideration to service that facilitates efforts by public health officials to contain spread of the virus," stated Sara Nelson, AFA-CWA International President.

“The coronavirus may be spread by infected persons not yet displaying symptoms. For this reason, it is critical that any crew potentially infected through travel to and from China not be assigned to any additional flights until safely through the fourteen day incubation period. These crews must be pay protected for any scheduled flights and provided with the means to get food and other supplies while remaining out of public contact. This action is also on the AFA communicable disease checklist provided to all of our airlines again on January 21, 2020.

“We need responsible leadership from our government and we need it now. We will continue to work with our airlines, who have been exceeding precautions suggested by the administration – albeit now these actions are clearly not enough. This must end now. This is an emergency and our government must take a leadership role, in consultation with all stakeholders, in order to end this public health threat and protect American workers.”

Resources for Flight Attendants to Guard Against the Spread of Infection

Q: What is it?

2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) is a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people. 

Q: What are the symptoms?

For confirmed 2019-nCoV infections, symptoms can include fever, cough, and shortness of breath. The CDC believes at this time that symptoms of 2019-nCoV may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure.

Q: How serious is it?

While CDC considers this is a very serious public health threat, based on current information, the immediate health risk from 2019-nCoV to the general American public is considered low at this time. As of February 20, 2020 there are 15 cases in the U.S. The CDC is keeping a live count at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-in-us.html

CDC recommends that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to China.

Q: How should I protect myself if I’m working a trip to/from China?

CDC recommends the following measures for cabin crew to protect themselves, manage a sick traveler, clean contaminated areas, and take actions after a flight:

  • Practice routine handwashing.
    • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after assisting sick travelers or touching potentially contaminated body fluids or surfaces.
    • Use alcohol-based hand sanitizer (containing at least 60% alcohol) if soap and water are not available.
  • Follow standard precautions to prevent healthcare-associated infections
  • Identify sick travelers who meet the above description.
    • Minimize contact between passengers and cabin crew and the sick person. If possible, separate the sick person from others ( 6 feet is ideal) and designate one crew member to serve the sick person.
    • Offer a facemask, if available and if the sick person can tolerate it. If a facemask is not available or cannot be tolerated, ask the sick person to cover their mouth and nose with tissues when coughing or sneezing.
  • Treat all body fluids (such as respiratory secretions, diarrhea, vomit, or blood) as if they are infectious.
    • Wear disposable gloves when tending to a sick traveler or touching body fluids or potentially contaminated surfaces. Remove gloves carefully to avoid contaminating yourself, then wash hands.
    • When tending to a sick traveler from China who has fever, persistent cough, or difficulty breathing, use additional protective equipment in the Universal Precaution Kit face mask, eye protection, and a gown to cover clothing.
    • Properly dispose of gloves and other disposable items that came in contact with the sick person or body fluids in biohazard bag or a secured plastic bag labeled as “biohazard.”
  • Clean and disinfect contaminated surfaces according to airline protocol.
  • Report, as soon as possible before arrival, by one of the methods described in the Guidance for Air Travel Industry Reporting of Onboard Death or Illnesses to CDC.
  • Review CDC’s Infection Control Guidelines for Cabin Crew
    • CDC recommends that companies review and update, as needed, their personal protection policies and communicate and train employees on how to manage sick travelers.

Q: How can I tell, and what should I do, if I might be infected?

  • If you develop a fever [Note: Fever may not be present in some patients, such as those who are very young, elderly, immunosuppressed, or taking certain fever-lowering medications] and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from China, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your recent travel or close contact. If you have had close contact [Note: Close contact is ~6 ft, or being in a room with an ill person for a prolonged period of time without PPE] with someone showing these symptoms who has recently traveled from this area, you should call ahead to a healthcare professional and mention your close contact and their recent travel. Your healthcare professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for 2019-nCoV.

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