Muscat: Airport authorities in Oman are prepared to handle any cases of travellers reporting symptoms of coronavirus, while also setting up preventive and awareness measures to ensure all visitors to airports in the country know of the harm the disease can cause.
The plan is being run in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, which in turn is acting jointly with the World Health Organization, following a meeting between the Directorate General for Disease Surveillance and Control at the Ministry of Health, and Oman Airports.
Having originated in the city of Wuhan, China, the novel coronavirus (nCoV – 2019) is reported to have killed at least 41 people in China alone, with upward of 700 cases having been reported in the Hubei province – of which Wuhan is the capital.
Other cases have been reported in Pakistan, Nepal, Malaysia and France, while American authorities are also monitoring people.
A statement from Oman Airports said, “Given the epidemiological situation of the novel coronavirus (nCoV – 2019) in the People’s Republic of China and the rest of the world, the Ministry of Health, along with other related organisations are prepared for the response to the outbreak of coronavirus, and to discuss with specialists and stakeholders, how to proceed in the activation of the related emergency preparedness and response plans.”
“Across departure corridors, airport display screens will spread awareness about the new coronavirus, as well as share guidelines and tips that should be followed during travel, with the Ministry of Health providing formulation and design of display materials and Oman Airports responsible for displaying this,” said a report issued by the DG for Disease Surveillance and Control.
“An audio alert will be issued by all airlines before landing, while passengers will be required to fill out a disease disclosure form,” added the report. “The latest states of the emerging coronavirus, as well the symptoms that accompany the disease will also be made through announcements. Travellers who’ve visited or had contact with a patient with novel coronavirus during the past 14 days, must fill out the disease disclosure form.”
All airlines must provide a disease disclosure form for travellers, and direct those who are coming from or have transited through the People’s Republic of China to fill out this form. Flight crews must guide the travellers with the disease disclosure form to the airport health monitoring clinic before going to the immigration gates.
In addition, awareness messages will be displayed in arrival areas for passengers who have deplaned. These screens will carry information on the symptoms the virus causes in those who’ve had the disease for the past 14 days.
“Oman Airports employees should guide and direct travellers with the disease disclosure form to assembly points before they can go to the passport gates,” added the report. “There must also be provision of an area to receive passengers who are to be transported to the airport health monitoring clinic. These areas must be both before the passport gates, and in front of the clinic.”
“They must also guide these passengers to the passport gates, so that they don’t accidentally mix with the other passengers,” the report went on to say. “Health workers and employees must be trained, and provided sanitising liquids and tissues at the airport for the use of staff and incoming passengers, particularly those who suffer from symptoms such as sneezing and coughing.
“Provision of respiratory masks must be made for travellers who have these symptoms, as well as sterile wipes for disinfection of surfaces and tools used to inspect travellers,” the report added.
The Ministry of Health has listed the symptoms of the novel coronavirus, which include shortness of breath and difficulty breathing, coughing, severe pneumonia, and fever.
“If you have any symptoms and a travel history to China or any of the other affected areas over the past 14 days, please go to the nearest healthcare institution and report your travel history,” said the Ministry in a statement.