By: Flyhigh Manila Staff
The Cathay Pacific Flight Attendant union has called on the airline to expand their policy that allows their cabin crew to wear face masks during flights to China mainland to protect themselves from the Wuhan coronovirus. The union wants the management to allow the crew to wear masks on all flights as they express concern over spending hours in an airplane with passengers who may have come from Wuhan an infected with the virus.
The union has also warned on the "catastrophic" effects of waiting for a crew to fall ill before making a decision.
After implementing the policy on its daily flights to mainland China, Cathay Pacific allowed their cabin crew to wear masks, however, the Cathay Pacific Airways Flight Attendants Union (CPAFAU) which represents 7,000 of the airlines' 12,000 cabin crew, pointed out that it should be extended worldwide in the wake of the virus spreading to other countries. The deadly virus which has already claimed 6 lives in mainland China has spreaded to Japan, Thailand, and Taiwan.
In a statement, the CPAFAU has received emails and messages from its members raising concern and anxiety about the virus. The union said, "all of them are worried about the risk they are taking every time they go to work."
"It is time for the company to properly address their concerns and allow cabin crew to wear masks on all flights. Such a measure does not only ease the anxiety of frontline employees, but also sends a message to the public that Cathay Pacific is doing everything to ensure the safety of the passengers," it continued.
Last month, a new strain of coronavirus had been attacking people in Wuhan city last month and can be transmitted from person to person. As of Tuesday, there were already 300 confirmed cases in China and single cases in Japan, Taiwan, and Thailand.
In a report by South China Morning Post, Cathay Pacific said that it is monitoring the whole situation and is in touch with Hong Kong authorities and at all other ports it flies to. “As required by the Hong Kong health authorities, we are now distributing health declaration forms and will be making face masks and antiseptic wipes available at the boarding gate to passengers travelling from Wuhan to Hong Kong,” the airline said.
A Cathay Pacific flight attendant who requested to remain anonymous said, “I have just talked to some of my colleagues who have children about this and they are now wearing masks at home. The incubation period is supposed to be 14 days and thus they are fearful they have been infected but they just don’t know yet."
The flight attendant also pointed out that colleagues flying long haul are as worried as those flying to the mainland because there might be passengers on board who have recently been to Wuhan.
During the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003 some airlines had adopted the practice of letting crew members wear a mask, only if they had to deal with sick passengers in their cabins.