Friday, 8 May, 2009

Swine Flu - Travellers - BEWARE !!

The World Health Organisation is not recommending any travel restrictions to contain an outbreak of swine flu that has killed people in Mexico and spread around the world.Countries worldwide have ramped up their border and airport checks and many are advising against non-essential travel to areas where the virus has been found, especially Mexico where it has proved most deadly.Following are the health concerns related to air travel, and guidance from the WHO and the international airlines body IATA about how travellers should stay safe and what carriers should do to reduce disease transmission risks:


-- Wash hands frequently

-- Avoid contact with sick persons

-- Avoid contact with live animals in markets

-- Consult with doctor before travelling if ill


Germs can circulate in plane cabins, although IATA says that modern aircraft have advanced filtration systems which have markedly improved the level of on-board air quality.WHO experts have previously said that transmission risks for diseases such as tuberculosis are only highly acute on flights lasting more than eight hours, and for people sitting within five rows of an infected person.


Airlines are instructed -- in rules that predate the swine flu outbreak

-- to take action if a passenger or crew member has a fever of 38 degrees Celsius (100 degrees Fahrenheit) or higher, as well as one of the following symptoms:

-- Appearing obviously unwell

-- Persistent coughing

-- Impaired breathing

-- Persistent diarrhoea

-- Persistent vomiting

-- Skin rash

-- Bruising or bleeding without previous injury

-- Confusion of recent onset

In such cases, protocol dictates that airline staff call for medical support from ground support or among the passengers, and then follow the doctor's instructions.If no medical support is available, the airline would then:

-- Relocate the sick person to a more isolated area

-- Designate a cabin crew to look after the sick person

-- Designate a lavatory for exclusive use of sick person

-- Ask sick person to wear surgical mask or use airsick bag

-- Store soiled items (such as tissues, pillows, blankets, linen, seat pocket items) in biohazard bag-

- Ask accompanying travellers if they have similar symptoms

-- Ensure hand-carried cabin baggage follows the passenger

-- Report suspect case to captain and air traffic control

-- Ask all travellers seated in the same row, two rows in front and two rows behind the sick traveller to complete a passenger locator card

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