File image: Twitter/@MEAIndia
Even as airlines around the world depend on the hardest disinfectants to clean their flights of any sign of the coronavirus or COVID-19, the aviation industry in India too has geared up to limit the damage from the epidemic.
While airlines have issued advisories asking pilots and crews to wear masks, airports in Mumbai and Delhi have installed thermal cameras to screen passengers.
The measures come even as the virus, despite showing signs of slowing down in China, seems to fast spreading to other regions, including parts of Asia, Europe and South America.
The aviation industry is one of the most vulnerable and travel has taken a hit. Most airlines have cancelled flights and even sent staff on leave.Advisory to crew
, the country's largest airline, sent a list of 'personal protective measures' to its pilots, crew members and those handing ground operations in India and overseas.
Apart from asking its staff to frequently wash hands, 'at least for 20 seconds' and 'do not shake hands for greeting', the airline has given specific instructions to those flying to South East nations.
One of these stated:
"On all flights to South East ASEAN countries, crew to wear masks mandatorily before opening doors at destinations and during the entire time while on a layover."
There are dietary recommendations too. "The consumption of raw or undercooked animal products should be avoided. Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care..." it added.Airports on alert
Both Mumbai and Delhi airports have taken special measures as they handle passengers coming in from different parts of the world.
"As per the Government of India (MoCA and MoHFW) directives, MIAL has taken all actions," said a representative of Mumbai International Airport, which is operated by the GVK Group.
The airport now has set up health counters, and 'alert messages' have been put up at strategic locations within the Mumbai airport, which handles nearly 50 million passengers a year, or about 1.3 lakh passengers a day.
These passengers will also have to line up to be screened by especially installed thermal cameras. At MIAL, there are three thermal cameras before the immigration area.
How do thermal cameras, which were also used in airports globally during the SARS scare, help?
Some of them may look like the regular cameras. But instead of being sensitive to light, like normal cameras, the thermal ones pick up heat. Hotter the subject that is being screened, brighter the image is.
These cameras can single out passengers with even a slight variation in body temperature, which is the first step to filter fliers who could be carrying the virus. They are then taken for further testing.
These cameras are at present extensively used in all major airports around the world.Cleaning the flights
International airlines are seeking out the toughest disinfectants to neutralise the virus on aisles, seats and overhead cabins. A Bloomberg
report details how airlines -- including Qantas Airways, Korean Air and Scoot -- are using disinfectants that are otherwise strong enough to stop herpes and superbugs. The usual vacuum and wipe routine is no longer enough.