In the latest development, Air India has informed its employees that its earlier guidelines about quarantining the entire crew if there’s a positive passenger on board the aircraft, stands annulled.
The airline management told its staff that because the crew is wearing proper PPE [hazmat suit] while operating a flight, “the risk of contracting Covid-19 infection from a positive passenger is negligible. Moreover, there are no in-flight catering services”.
The airline has, however, clarified on the following:
1. If there’s a breach of PPE of a crew while undertaking an activity in close contact to a Covid positive passenger on board, then the crew shall go into preventive home quarantine for 14 days. There is no need for the rest of the crew to be quarantined.
2. If a cabin crew tests positive immediately after a flight, then the other crew of flight having exposure due to close contact with that crew, with breach of PPE, as decided by CCIC shall go into preventive 14 days home quarantine. There is no need for the rest of the crew to be quarantined.
In both the above cases, as cockpit crew is not at risk of exposure they will not be advised any quarantine.
3. If one of the cockpit crew tests positive for the coronavirus immediately after operating the flight, then the other cockpit crew shall go into preventive 14 days home quarantine. The cabin crew in this situation shall not be observing quarantine.
4. Any staff travelling on duty as a passenger in any of the above situations need not observe quarantine as he will be wearing PPE and maintaining physical distancing.
This development comes after the new amended Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) circular on airline crew management owing to the Covid-19 crisis.
On June 22, the DGCA announced a new amendment to a circular. It said that the amendment has been brought about after due consideration of the opinion rendered by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Asking for strict compliance, the circular said, “The risk assessment for the crew shall be done by the concerned Airlines doctor and the crew shall be advised for testing as per ICMR guidelines. Whether the crew should be subjected to 14 days home quarantine or not shall be based on the said “Risk Assessment”.”
“However, in case of such crew having the history of contact with a Covid-19 case during the flight operations, the home quarantine shall be mandatory. Such information should be shared by the airline with concerned APHO for coordinating with the state government. All crew members must be advised to download the Arogya Setu App and monitor their health status through the same,” it said.