Seven Nepal Airlines crew members, including three pilots test positive for Covid-19Seven other members are also suspected to have been infected with the coronavirus as their polymerase chain reaction test results are expected on Tuesday.
Nepal Airlines on Monday confirmed its seven flying crew members including three pilots have tested positive for Covid-19.
Among the 30 crew members tested before being sent home from their hotel on completion of their allocated duty hours, seven were confirmed positive for Covid-19, said Archana Khadka, spokesperson for the airlines.
“Seven other crew members are also suspected to have the virus infection as their polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results are expected on Tuesday.”
Airline sources said that all employees are in a panic-like situation after so many of them tested positive for Covid-19.
The seven members have been placed in isolation to prevent the contagion from spreading further, said Khadka. They are required to remain in isolation for 14 days.
As per the Covid-19 aviation health safety protocol, all cockpit and cabin crews, after operating three or four international flights, shall be self-quarantined at home.
The flag carrier said that flights would be operated as per the plan and by adopting additional safety measures.
According to sources, Nepal Airlines had its anniversary on July 1, when some crew members staying at the hotel allegedly celebrated the occasion without following the safety protocol. This is suspected to have spread the virus.
Nepal Airlines staff are kept at Hotel Soaltee, where the carrier holds 10 percent shares.
On Monday, the Airlines issued a circular asking its crew members to maintain social and physical distancing norms within the hotel premises, including rooms, strictly.
“Crew members are requested to stay alert and not to lose their guard and fight against Covid-19,” the internal memo reads. Nepal Airlines has designated a focal person to make all arrangements related to PCR testing and other logistics.
Airlines have been asked to assess their own risk and accordingly formulate policies for crew of flights whose members tested positive.
Earlier, two flying crew members, including a foreign pilot of Himalaya Airlines, were also confirmed to have the coronavirus infection.
Frequently asked questions about the coronavirus outbreak
UPDATED as of August 13, 2020
What is Covid-19?
Covid-19, short for coronavirus disease, is an illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, short for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Common symptoms of the disease include fever, dry cough, fatigue, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
How contagious is Covid-19?
Covid-19 can spread easily from person to person, especially in enclosed spaces. The virus can travel through the air in respiratory droplets produced when a sick person breathes, talks, coughs or sneezes. As the virus can also survive on plastic and steel surfaces for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours, any contact with such surfaces can also spread the virus. Symptoms take between two to 14 days to appear, during which time the carrier is believed to be contagious.
Where did the virus come from?
The virus was first identified in Wuhan, China in late December. The coronavirus is a large family of viruses that is responsible for everything from the common cold to Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). After an initial outbreak in Wuhan that spread across Hubei province, eventually infecting over 80,000 and killing more than 3,000, new infection rates in mainland China have dropped. However, the disease has since spread across the world at an alarming rate.
What is the current status of Covid-19?
The World Health Organisation has called the ongoing outbreak a “pandemic” and urged countries across the world to take precautionary measures. Covid-19 had spread to 213 countries and infected more than 20,648,298 people with 749,965 deaths and 13,441,913 recoveries. In South Asia, India has reported the highest number of infections at 2,396,637 with 47,033 deaths. While Pakistan has reported 286,674 confirmed cases with 6,139 deaths. Nepal has so far reported 24,957 cases with 95 deaths.
How dangerous is the disease?
The mortality rate for Covid-19 is estimated to be 3.6 percent, but new studies have put the rate slightly higher at 5.7 percent. Although Covid-19 is not too dangerous to young healthy people, older individuals and those with immune-compromised systems are at greater risk of death. People with chronic medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease, or those who’ve recently undergone serious medical procedures, are also at risk.
How do I keep myself safe?
The WHO advises that the most important thing you can do is wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizers with at least 60 percent alcohol content. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unclean hands. Clean and disinfect frequently used surfaces like your computers and phones. Avoid large crowds of people. Seek medical attention if symptoms persist for longer than a few days.
Is it time to panic?
No. The government has imposed a lockdown to limit the spread of the virus. There is no need to begin stockpiling food, cooking gas or hand sanitizers. However, it is always prudent to take sensible precautions like the ones identified above.