As domestic flights resume after two months, there have been reports of passengers testing positive for coronavirus after completing a flight journey.
A passenger on an IndiGo flight from Chennai to Coimbatore tested positive for COVID-19, following which the airline quarantined the crew and is in the process of informing passengers.
One passenger on a Delhi-Ludhiana Air India flight on May 25 tested positive for COVID-19, and the airline has put all passengers under state quarantine.
What should you do if a passenger, pilot or cabin crew member on your flight tests positive for COVID-19?
Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
Since COVID-19 patients are not allowed to fly, there is no way of knowing if someone is infected during the flight.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has instructed passengers to testify that they have not tested positive for COVID-19 in the past two months. Those who show symptoms at the airport will not be permitted to board the flight.
But if someone on the flight was to test COVID-19 positive later, here's what should do:
>> Contact the airline, if they haven't done so themselves, and find out if they have instructed quarantine for all passengers. If you are not in home quarantine already, it is recommended that you self-isolate for 14 days, or as instructed by your state.
>> Get tested within 5-10 days of coming into contact with the COVID-19 patient, as recommended by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), especially if you show symptoms.
"Asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case to be tested once between day 5 and day 10 of coming into contact," the ICMR's guidelines state.
>> The Union Health Ministry has advised all asymptomatic passengers to monitor their health for 14 days.
"Asymptomatic passengers will be permitted to go with the advice that they shall self-monitor their health for 14 days. In case, they develop any symptoms, they shall inform the district surveillance officer or the state/national call center (1075)," the health ministry said.
>> Contact your local authorities and hospitals for further queries related to symptoms, testing, and quarantine.
Here are other precautions you can take before and during the flight to reduce your chances of infection:
>> Before travelling, make sure you check your destination state's guidelines. States have issued varied guidelines, with several mandating a 14-day home quarantine for those who intend to stay for a long period.
Karnataka has even ordered compulsory institutional quarantine for passengers from high-risk states such as Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat.
>> Follow the standard protocol at airports, such as usage of face masks, social distancing and going through thermal screening.
Carry only one check-in bag and one hand bag to minimise physical contact and lower the chances of transmission.
>> Avoid crowding at places such as the airport entrance, food and beverage counters, and boarding gates. Use hand sanitizers that should be available throughout the airport.
>> Use the protective equipment provided by airlines, which includes a face mask, face shield and sanitizer.
>> In the aircraft, minimise use of lavatories and avoid non-essential movement in the aisle.
>> Airlines are required to have a policy in place in case their staff comes in contact with someone who is COVID-19 positive."If any crew or other staff comes in contact of COVID-19 patient or exposed
handle COVID-19 positive cases or any other health emergency," the DGCA said in the circular.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak here