Qatar Airways has introduced a comprehensive medical plan to deal with the suspected or confirmed cases of swine flu that it encounters in its flights.
The airline has also developed a business continuity plan (BCP) to reduce the impact of a possible outbreak of the pandemic in the country on its commercial operations.
The highlights of the emergency plan were given during a joint presentation by Ashish, chairman of pandemic task force at the airline and Dr Soha Al Albayat, head of Medical Services at Qatar Airways Medical Center.
Ashish said a major challenge the airline would face in case of a swine flu outbreak is a rise in the number of staff absentees. This could happen due to many reasons including a fear about the disease. Some staff would be sick with the flu while some others will be caring their relatives infected with the virus.
“Our crew and staff are at a higher risk because they are travelling all over the world and they come into close contact with passengers from various countries,”said Ashish.
Al bayat said the cabin crew in all Qatar Airways flights were well educated on how to deal with a swine flu case they encounter onboard. If any suspected cases are detected, they will report it to the captain and the captain will immediately contact the Medical Services Department to decide on how to proceed.
If the passenger meets the criteria of a ‘suspected case” the person will be immediately isolated from other passengers.
“We try to keep two rows empty in every flights, if possible, for such passengers. After isolating the passenger, we distribute preventive masks to all passengers in the adjacent rows- the front raw and the back row,” said Al Bayat.
The “suspected” passengers will be either the first or the last to disembark depending on their seating to keep them away from close contact to other passengers.
On arrival, they will be referred to the dedicated health care facilities in the country for further tests and the airline will act according to instructions from the health authorities.
The airline has a number of transit passengers and there is a possibility that some of them are infected with the virus. If any such cases are detected after the person disembarks from the flight, the airline will soon inform all other passengers, who are more likely to contract the disease so that they can take the precautionary measures.
The airline has also prepared awareness leaflets for passengers and stocked masks and for emergency use.
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