There has been significant reporting on Qantas Group and how we are dealing with the Coronavirus risk while maintaining essential transport links. Below are some answers to the most common questions being asked. A video featuring Qantas Group Medical Director, Dr Ian Hosegood, will be uploaded shortly.
Are crew high risk of being infected and passing it on to customers?
- There’s been no confirmed cases of transmission of the Coronavirus to employees or customers on board our aircraft, or any aircraft globally for that matter. That includes instances where someone unwittingly travelled on one of our flights while infected with Coronavirus, based on our discussions with health authorities.
How are crew becoming infected?
- Our own tracing shows infections have occurred in overseas cities where social distancing hadn’t been put in place and where the virus was circulating largely without anyone knowing.
- Crew are now required to remain in their hotel rooms if they are overseas between flights. This is usually around 24 hours.
Can crew wear masks on board?
- Masks are provided to all crew however advice from the World Health Organisation is that maintaining good hand hygiene is more effective than wearing a mask.
What are you doing to protect crew?
- Crew are provided with masks, gloves and other personal protective equipment.
- Crew who are operating to overseas destinations are required to remain in their hotel rooms for the duration of the layover. We have also advised crew to simply not come to work if they are feeling ill (particularly with early cold or flu like symptoms).
- Qantas has a dedicated team of medical experts including doctors who can advise and assist crew.
Why are so many Qantas staff infected?
- The cases we have in the Group are almost all from community transmission overseas – for instance:
- The crew from the Santiago almost certainly contracted it while on the ground there.
- The Adelaide Airport cluster is thought to have been spread by one person who came back from a holiday overseas and came to work while they had symptoms – exposing their co-workers, who then also became infected.
Why is there a delay in Qantas taking action when a crew member is tested positive?
- There’s no delay in action once a staff member has tested positive and Qantas is made aware.
- Test results aren’t immediate so this can also add to the time before close contacts (such as other crew) are notified and asked to self-isolate and monitor for any symptoms.
- This is a similar process for other positive test cases in the community.
Can customers have confidence that they will not contact the virus when flying on Qantas services?
- The evidence from this outbreak and previous outbreaks of respiratory illnesses suggests that the risk of inflight transmission is low.
- High performance air filtration systems, the same used in hospital operating theatres, also refresh the cabin air every two to three minutes.
- The configuration of the cabin seems to also help reduce the risk.
- Our aircraft are thoroughly cleaned with disinfectant including high touch surfaces such as inflight entertainment screens and tray tables.