Mers: Singapore Airlines plans to screen planes

Sticky virus had a significant impact on the airline during the 2007 outbreak of the Mers virus on a flight between the Middle East and Asia

Singapore Airlines is planning to remove sick crew and prescreen its planes with fever detectors after it emerged one of its pilots was recently tested positive for Middle East respiratory syndrome.

More than 500 passengers of an 11-day Singapore-bound flight from the Middle East contracted the virus, sparking a close review of the airline’s emergency procedures, which would have been in place had it crashed and killed the 1,290 people on board.

Singapore Airlines said in a statement it would “expect everyone on the aircraft, including crew, to be fit to fly when the aircraft reaches Singapore”.

Breathing some life back into the Mers virus Read more

It said the infected crew member, who was removed by paramedics after being diagnosed with Mers on 19 August, would be missed during the first day of a five-day flight on which 824 passengers and 139 crew are scheduled to fly.

Singapore Airlines said in a statement that it was comfortable with its staff returning to their posts for the return leg.

Mers spread rapidly on a flight from Saudi Arabia in June last year and killed more than 300 people.

Early last year, the Philippines health department gave Biman Bangladesh Airlines the green light to board a transpacific flight to Kuala Lumpur using a preventative air screening system that uses an electrocardiogram device to detect early heart symptoms such as fainting, collapse and painful breathing.

That system has been used on passenger checks at six airports in the Philippines since May last year but was not applied on the Biman Bangladesh Airlines flight.

The Singapore Airlines pilot had been taking treatment and recovering. He has since returned to work.

The airline said a ban on taking sick leave would not be extended to its ground staff as of Friday, as they already had stricter medical requirements than its aircraft.

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