RAWALPINDI: After the health authorities in Pakistan issued an alert to border posts to stay vigilant about any suspected coronavirus case coming from the affected areas, the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has taken precautionary measures and decided to pre-scan passengers at Beijing airport before they board the plane.

This was stated by PIA spokesman Abdullah Hafeez on Thursday.

The airline officials have contacted the Federal Health Services to also take necessary screening measures upon arrival of flights from Beijing.

The PIA operates two flights a week from Islamabad to Beijing and vice versa, according to the spokesman.

Meanwhile, the China Southern Airlines (CSA) has suspended its operation to Lahore till Jan 29 and to Islamabad till 28 due to the Chinese New Year.

PIA to screen passengers at Beijing airport; quarantine rooms set up at local airports

A Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) official said the suspension of operations by the CSA had nothing to do with the new deadly virus as the flights were suspended due to passenger load on the eve of the Chinese New Year.

However, flight operations of the PIA will continue.

On the other hand, the CAA has intensified checking at all international airports across the country by introducing new screening measures to prevent and detect recently discovered coronavirus, which first emerged in China, from entering the country though air travellers.

A spokesman for the CAA said in a press release that the measures focussed on screening all passengers coming from China to Islamabad through 17 weekly flights for possible symptoms that the deadly virus caused.

At Islamabad International Airport (IIA), every passenger from a China flight will have to go through health counters set up by the CAA, at the airport’s arrival level 2, where a doctor and two paramedics from the government health department would screen them through thermal body scanning machines and thermometers simultaneously.

In case a patient is identified with the virus, he/she will be kept in a quarantine room designated by the CAA for such passengers until they are shifted to the Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences.

At Peshawar’s Bacha Khan International Airport also, the CAA has installed a thermal scanner at arrivals for immediate identification of infected passengers. A quarantine room has been provided to the health department for tackling such cases as per international standards.

At the IIA also, a quarantine room has been allocated where the passengers suspected of carrying the virus are checked by a doctor and paramedic.

Published in Dawn, January 24th, 2020