COVID-19 surge | British Airways cabin crew members ‘not turning up for flights to India’: Report

The airline’s bosses have been forced to write to frontline staff asking them not to stay away from work.

May 17, 2021 / 10:37 PM IST
British Airways | Representative image

British Airways | Representative image

Amid the recent surge in COVID cases and emergence of a new Indian variant - B.1.617.2, some of the British Airways cabin crew members are reportedly failing to show up to flights to India. The fear of the India's devastating wave of coronavirus cases.

For over last 15 days, India recorded more than 3,00,000 cases and 4,000 deaths on a daily basis. Recent warning by Britain’s health secretary Matt Hancock on Sunday that the new Indian varient could “spread like wildfire” among the unvaccinated has made the situation bad and crew are afraid.

UK COVID-19 restrictions eased despite variant concerns

British newspaper The Sun on Sunday reported that in a bid to encourage cabin crew to fly to India British Airways has reportedly axed night stops in India. Also, the airline’s bosses have been forced to write to frontline staff asking them not to stay away from work, added the daily.

"If you do not feel comfortable operating these flights then please complete a form and you will be removed," The Sun quoted the letter as saying. While, anonymous staff member said that crew members are scared of working on the flights.

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

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Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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"The safety of our customers and crew is always our top priority, and we follow and comply with all international regulations," another daily The Independent quoted the British Airline as saying.

On April 23, the Boris Johnson-led government placed India on the 'red list', which means people arriving from the country are forced to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks upon entering the UK.

With Johnson's warning on Friday saying Indian variant of COVID-19 could be 40-50 per cent more transmissible than the Kent variant, fears have grown over the possible 'substantial resurgence of hospitalisations' like previous year.

Meanwhile, Air India on May 14 released a statement saying that all the international passengers boarding flights from India need to mandatorily ensure that they are carrying a negative RT-PCR report as per the requirement of their destination country, with a QR code linking to the original report from May 22 onwards.

The Indian airliner had also released a list of flights that it would operate from Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru to and fro for London Heathrow airport from May 16 to May end.
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