18 passengers on a Korean Air Boeing 747 rescue flight showed symptoms of the coronavirus. The flight was chartered to evacuate passengers from the center of the outbreak in Wuhan, China.
The Korean Air rescue flight
Bloomberg reports that the charter flight took off from Wuhan and landed at Seoul’s Gimpo International Airport. Onboard this flight were 368 passengers and 15 crewmembers. In addition, Korean Air’s Chairman, Walter Cho, also flew on this rescue flight. Upon arrival in Seoul, 18 passengers showed signs of a fever. These passengers were taken to local hospitals for further examination.
This flight was chartered to help evacuate South Korean citizens from Wuhan. Furthermore, the crew of this flight was comprised of volunteers who received additional incentives for working on this flight. The entire crew, and Chairman Cho, wore hazmat suits and came into limited contact with passengers.
Coronavirus rescue flights
These rescue flights are nothing new in the race to contain the coronavirus outbreak and repatriate citizens from China. Several countries have already conducted these flights. The United States conducted a repatriation flight for US citizens from Wuhan. Those passengers arrived at an air base in California. There, they are expected to stay for several days to check for signs of the virus before being allowed to return home according to CNN.
Commercial service to China
Airlines around the world are cutting services to China. The Lufthansa Group, British Airways, El Al, Finnair and a number of other carriers have entirely suspended service to mainland China. However, more commonly, other airlines are simply reducing frequencies. Most airlines that still fly to China continue to serve either Beijing or Shanghai.
Korean Air has canceled the following services to China:
- KE881/882 to Wuhan until March 27th
- KE817/818 to Tunxi from February 2nd until February 22nd
- KE163/164 to Zhangjiajie from February 2nd until February 22nd
- KE819/820 to Changsha from February 2nd until February 22nd
- KE885/886 to Kunming from February 2nd until February 22nd
- KE845/846 to Qingdao from February 2nd until February 22nd
- KE859/860 to Beijing from February 4th until February 22nd
- KE833/834 to Shenyang from February 11th until February 22nd
- KE153/154 to Nanjing from February 2nd until February 22nd
- KE849/850 to Beijing from February 2nd until February 22nd
In addition, Busan to Qingdao service (KE889/890) and to Shanghai (KE875/876) will only see four weekly departures from February 2nd through February 22nd. Meanwhile, Jeju to Beijing (KE879/880) service will reduce to thrice-weekly between the same period.
In addition, Korean Air is also stepping up its cabin disinfection procedures on flights from China. This is to avoid spreading the infection to passengers traveling to other destinations. Also, Korean Air will also dispose cutlery form inflight meal service in sealed plastic bags. Meal services for return flights to South Korea from Hong Kong, Beijing, Taipei, and Shanghai will also be loaded in Seoul-Incheon instead of sourced locally.
18 passengers on a Korean Air rescue flight displayed symptoms of coronavirus upon landing in Seoul. Those passengers were taken to the hospital for additional observance. Meanwhile, other passengers will stay at a government facility. The South Korean government will provide those passengers with all necessary supplies such as meals and will also provide internet, television, and book access. Trained medical personnel will also monitor these passengers.
Were you on this Korean Air rescue flight? Let us know in the comments!