Press conference on epidemic control in post-Spring Festival travel rush

A press conference was held Saturday afternoon to introduce various measures related to COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control during the post-Spring Festival travel rush. February 18, 2020

The Kyunghyang Shinmun:  


I have two questions. First, if a passenger has no symptoms before taking the train or plane, but is later discovered during the trip to have a fever or other symptoms, how will the transportation department respond? Second, how do the relevant departments disinfect aircrafts and trains where suspected or confirmed patients have been found? What is the disinfection process? Thank you.

Li Wenxin:   

The railway department has established a set of relatively comprehensive, scientific and effective emergency treatment protocols for passengers with a fever. To meet the needs in handling the epidemic, we are reserving a certain number of seats on each train as a temporary isolation area to meet emergency needs. If passengers with fever are found on the train, staff will immediately isolate them, follow the protocols for treating patients with fever found on the train, and timely deliver passengers with a fever to the next train station with a health check-up station. The patients will then be transferred to the local epidemic prevention department for further medical checks and treatment. Emergency disinfection will be performed in areas on the train where passengers with a fever have been. After the train reaches its end station, comprehensive terminal disinfection will be performed. After screening, if the fevered passengers are either confirmed or suspected patients, we will immediately inform the local government's epidemic prevention department and report information of their close contacts, to make it easy for authorities to trace them. Thank you.

Li Jian:   

Although the resumption of work and production will not bring about a high peak of passenger flow for the time being, according to the new requirements and new characteristics of the prevention and control work, we will continue to enhance the original measures.

First, we will strengthen the monitoring of passenger flow and adjust transportation capacity as necessary. We will facilitate measures for flight adjustments, and deploy relevant airlines to monitor the situation of passenger seat bookings. Once the passenger seat occupancy rate is high, we will change for larger aircraft types or add flights, in order to reduce the risk of virus transmission.

Second, we will combine the measures of prevention and control. On the one hand, we will have "resolute prevention." All passengers entering and leaving the airport will have their body temperature checked, and everyone that should be checked will be checked. At the same time, passengers exhibiting a fever should be handled in a timely manner. All airlines should also strengthen the collection of information on domestic flight passengers, implement body temperature screening and install medical emergency facilities at all stages from check-in to boarding, and do their best to avoid bringing the virus into airports and aircrafts. 

On the other hand, we will achieve "fine control." Ventilation and disinfection shall be strengthened at all airports. Considering the structure and layout of the terminal buildings and the local climate, airports should adopt practical ventilation measures. Airlines should conduct inspection and cleaning of the air-conditioning system on their aircraft, increase the frequency of examination and inspection, replace key components in a timely manner, and ensure that the cabin air is clean. At the same time, there will be other refined measures such as setting up a relatively independent "observation area" within the cabin and decentralizing passenger seats, in order to prevent airports and aircraft cabins from being a channel for virus transmission.

Moreover, we have also made a technical guide for passengers with a fever on board. Cabin crew members are specially trained, and flights have been equipped with relevant equipment such as airborne epidemic prevention kits. If passengers with fever are discovered, the flight crew will promptly handle them in accordance with the protocols.

The "terminal disinfection" of aircraft refers to thoroughly disinfecting the aircraft after the flight, including seats and all other areas. The disinfection must be carried out in accordance with relevant procedures. We have also developed special disinfectants for use onboard, which not only effectively kills viruses, but also meets the airworthiness requirements of aircraft, while preventing aircraft damage.

The technical guide I mentioned just now will be released in English in the near future for reference for foreign airlines and flight crews. At the same time, we welcome valuable feedback on the guide. Thank you.

He Qinghua:   

Thanks for your question. As I mentioned, passengers who are found having a fever while taking public vehicles, such as, trains and airliners, should be quarantined. In addition, other passengers who come into close contact with people having a fever must get their information registered in case they develop symptoms. After registration, we can inform close contacts what to do if they develop symptoms. The fourth edition of the prevention and control guidelines issued by the National Health Commission (NHC) has stipulated on how to define close contacts. For instance, all passengers in the same compartment in a closed transport vehicle, like a high-speed train, will be identified as close contacts. However, the registration will not always be followed by a 14-day quarantine. Health guidance should be given to those close contacts telling them to take timely medical treatment once they have symptoms.

I have just mentioned the disinfection in case of infected people are found in a train or an airplane. The NHC has formulated categorized guidelines of different types of vehicles, such as how to sterilize, what kind of disinfectants to use and how often to sterilize. Thank you.

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