PAL, Cebu Pacific confirm novel coronavirus patient boarded their flights

Aviation Updates Philippines – The Philippines' sole novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) patient was confirmed to have boarded several Cebu Pacific flights and a Philippine Airlines flight to Cebu, Dumaguete, and Manila which prompted serious actions from the country's health authorities.
INTENSIFIED MONITORING MEASURES. A Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) official monitors arriving passengers at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport amid the novel coronavirus threat. Photo by Eloisa Lopez - Reuters.
The Department of Health (DOH) said that the 38-year-old Chinese woman took a flight from Wuhan to Cebu via Hong Kong, and then to Dumaguete before arriving in Manila. She is the Philippines' first confirmed case of the fear-bearing novel coronavirus.

In a press release, Philippine Airlines confirmed that the ill passenger boarded PAL Express flight 2P-2542 from Dumaguete to Manila on January 25, 2020. The said flight was flown on-board an Airbus A320-214 operated by PAL Express with registry RP-C8398.

However, aircraft are being disinfected every after a flight to prevent further spread of disease. Besides, all cabin crew, pilots, and frontline personnel are now required to wear face masks as a precautionary measure.

"We are cooperating fully with the DOH and the Bureau of Quarantine in the process of contacting passengers on the said flight, in accordance with established safety protocols for dealing with a case of this nature.  We have provided the BOQ with the necessary flight manifest data accordingly," the airline said.

Philippine health authorities are continuing to track down the passengers who were on-board 2P-2542 and other unspecified flights. The Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) will have to track down passengers who were seated up to four seats away from the passenger.

A separate advisory from Cebu Pacific also confirmed that the unidentified woman boarded one of its flights. However, the airline did not specify which flight the passenger was in and opted to communicate to passengers privately.

"We are in the process of contacting passengers seated in the vicinity of the positive NCoV patient and are taking the necessary precautions to inform them so they can have themselves checked in case they show flu-like symptoms," Cebu Pacific said in a statement.

Cebu Pacific, however, emphasized that none of the crew members on-board the flights reported to have any symptoms that may be associated with the Wuhan coronavirus. Nevertheless, the two aircraft that were used for the flights were immediately pulled out from service to be disinfected thoroughly.

The aviation industry has been proactively setting up precautionary health measures to quarantine passengers. Airlines are disinfecting aircraft in each flight and airports are strengthening monitoring and quarantining for air passengers.

As of today, there are 9,843 confirmed infected patients and 213 deaths. Fortunately, 187 people have already recovered from the disease.