Quarantine shortened for pilots, crew on international flights

Imagine China

Mechanics inspects a passenger aircraft at Beijing Capital International Airport in scorching weather on Wednesday.

China’s civil aviation regulator has shortened the quarantine period by half for pilots and flight attendants on international flights to the Chinese mainland.

Pilots and other crew members will undergo a week-long central quarantine and a three-day health observation along with several nucleic acid tests after operating an inbound overseas flight, the Civil Aviation Administration of China said.

Moreover, pilots who have not gotten off the plane overseas are only subject to a week-long health observation after landing and can operate other international or domestic flights during the observation period.

The CAAC has released its updated 9th edition of the COVID-19 prevention protocol for airlines and airports. It has enhanced the prevention and control measures for inbound international flights, while optimizing the management on crew and imported cargo, a CAAC official said on Wednesday.

The latest guideline was made based on the 9th edition of the “Diagnosis and Treatment Protocol for Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia” released by the National Health Commission’s Bureau of Medical Administration.

“Since the average incubation period of the COVID-19 variants has been shortened, the quarantine period for pilots, flight attendants, cleaners and repairers on international flights was also adjusted,” the official said.

Previously, they were subject to a two-week central quarantine and another week of health observation.

All inbound flights from overseas are rated as high risk. All crew members must receive a COVID-19 vaccination booster shot before operating the flights.

Meals for the crew should be prepared domestically. If the meals are cooked overseas, they must be fully heated and the surface of the trolley must be thoroughly disinfected.

Quarantine shortened for pilots, crew on international flights

Ti Gong

Two safety inspectors work in hazmat suits on a passenger aircraft at Shanghai’s Pudong airport.

For passenger services, the protocol stipulates that only pre-packed food and bottled water can be provided on inbound international flights.

The in-flight ventilation must be turned to the maximum throughout the flight, while the lavatories must be cleaned and disinfected every half an hour or after being used by three passengers.

Newspapers or magazines will no longer be provided in the cabin, nor the blankets or pillows, unless there is a special request.

An additional garbage bag will be put behind each seat for passengers to dispose masks or other COVID-19 prevention equipment.

All imported cold-chain cargo has also been rated as high risk, while other imported products will be classified according to their origin and risk of contamination.

Meanwhile, the new protocol stipulates that staff working on the apron or handling low-risk cargo need not wear the hazmat suit if they had no contact with overseas travelers or crew, nor entered the cabin, lounge or toilet shared by risky groups.

Staff at multiple domestic airports have reportedly been hit by heatstroke recently after working on the tarmac in hazmat suits in scorching weather.

They are still required to wear KN95 or N95 masks, goggles or facial screen, rubber gloves and cap while working, the protocol says.

Quarantine shortened for pilots, crew on international flights

Ti Gong

Staff members handle imported cold-chain products at Pudong airport.

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