Flight attendants at Chinese airline companies have been advised to wear disposable nappies to avoid catching the novel coronavirus.
Cabin crews should not use the toilet barring ‘special circumstances’ during flights from countries and regions with high infection rates, according to the Chinese civil aviation authority.
Crew members must also wear full personal protective equipment, including medical-standard masks, gloves, goggles, protective clothing and shoe covers.
The strict rules appear in the sixth edition of the Technical Guidelines for Epidemic Prevention and Control for Transport Airline Companies, which was released by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) late last month.
They apply to the flights departing from places with an infection rate of higher than 500 people per million, the official document says.
This means that China-bound flights from the United States, Sweden, Lithuania, Hungary, Serbia, Slovenia, Croatia and Georgia fall under the category as of writing, according to data from John Hopkins University.
Although such a directive may seem dramatic, it is by no means new.
Chinese flight crews have been ordered to follow the advice since at least March when the CAAC released the third edition of the guideline to tackle growing global cases.
Public toilets are thought to be one of the riskiest places to catch COVID-19.
A South Korean woman was likely infected with the disease when she used an aeroplane toilet during a flight from virus-hit Italy earlier this year, researchers wrote in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases.
The 28-year-old was among about 300 South Koreans who were evacuated from Milan, Italy, on March 31 – amid the pandemic’s height in Europe, the team from Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine in Seoul, South Korea, claimed.
It is said the woman wore an N95 mask for the duration of the flight, except when she went to use the toilet.
At least one person who had COVID-19 – but was asymptomatic at the time – also used the restroom, making it likely that the 28-year-old breathed in infectious droplets or touched a contaminated surface.
Toilets on land may also be prone to transmission.
Scientists believe coronavirus can travel through plumbing – after three families living in a high rise building in China tested positive for the virus despite never coming into contact with each other and living 12 floors apart, according to a report in September.
In Britain, scientists advising the Government warned in August that public toilets can become crowded and are likely to harbour the virus on numerous cold surfaces.
Transmission of the virus through faeces and urine is also a risk, the team said, but admitted more research is needed to confirm this.
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