The Airport Council International (ACI) has cautioned travellers on the danger of the recent coronavirus outbreak, noting that it is of considerable concern to the aviation industry.
For airport operators, the main is to protect the health and welfare of travellers, staff and the public, and to reduce the opportunities for dissemination of communicable diseases, ACI said.
“In the coming days and weeks, ACI expects to see national regulators and health authorities react to the spread of the virus by introducing measures directly affecting aviation and more broadly.
“This advisory bulletin is addressed to ACI members and reiterates a number of options. and best practices that airports and national authorities can use to protect against communicable diseases that might pose a serious risk to public health.
“The recommendations are designed to reduce exposure to an infectious agent at airports and to improve the response to health-related emergencies by establishing mechanisms for rapid decision-making and action.
“They are intended as guidance, not to be adopted as written, but to be modified to the local situation as necessary. They are not specific to the coronavirus outbreak,” the international organisation observed.
It noted that not all of the measures identified would be the responsibility of the airport; but could be used in discussion with local authorities and national regulators when determining appropriate actions.
The top priority should be to agree responsibility and accountability for measures between the airport and the relevant authority, it added.
“From an operational perspective, ACI is committed to assisting airports. Airport members are advised to refer to the following guidelines as necessary, that can be found in the Airport preparedness guidelines for outbreaks of communicable disease. “To keep updated on the latest news on the coronavirus outbreak, ACI recommends the website maintained by the World Health Organisation (WHO) WHO Disease Outbreak News.
“The responsibility for management of the risk of communicable diseases at airports rests primarily with the local/regional/national public health authority and the relevant airport operator. If more than one airport is operated by the same organisation, plans should be prepared for each airport, in line with the recommendations contained in this document.
“Together with its national authorities, each airport operator can play its part towards achieving greater coordination of preparedness measures, the key to success in reducing the risk of spread of any communicable disease,” the world body added.
ACI recommended that airport preparedness plan should address aspects such as: communication (especially with the public), screening, logistics (transport of travellers to health facilities), equipment, entry/exit controls, and coordination with the local/regional/national public health authority.
It added that a particularly important requirement is for adequate supplies of appropriate personal protective equipment (including hand-washing facilities or sanitising gels) to be available for airport staff.