Coronavirus has become a global epidemic, with experts dubbing airports one of the riskiest places to be in terms of contamination. In a bid to stop the spread of disease Heathrow Airport has reported stepping up its hygiene across all of its terminals.
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Appearing on BBC Breakfast this morning, Chief Executive at Heathrow Airport, John-Holland Kaye outlined the intensive steps they are taking to protect those passing through the international flight hub.
He said: “We are deep cleaning the airport so that handrails and things that people might touch will be as clean as possible and also making sure that there’s a provision of hand sanitiser as well as the usual bathroom cleaning to make sure that people can keep their hands clean because, as we know, that is the biggest risk of infection.
“We’ve provided extra sanitiser to our direct colleagues.”
However, with approximately 201,000 travellers from all corners of the globe passing through its terminals every day, is this enough?
The news comes after travel expert Simon Calder dubbed airports “the most dangerous place to be” in terms of contamination.
Discussing an incident at Heathrow airport yesterday, which saw a British Airways aircraft forced to return to the terminal after a passenger panicked about travelling to Italy, Calder pointed out that the airport was actually more dangerous than the flight to the coronavirus infected region.
He said: “It’s still the case that it’s not very easy to catch this if you follow normal travel procedures.
”So for instance, this time yesterday there was a British Airways flight to Milan, it pushed away from the gate at Heathrow and then returned because a passenger decided they didn’t want to go to Milan.
“That from a risk assessment point of view was ridiculous because they’d already been through the most dangerous part of the journey which is an international airport where you’re sharing all of the germs from all over the world.”
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However, despite this revelation, the World Health Organisation insists that good “hand hygiene” should be enough to ward off the deathly illness.
Dr Carmen Dolea, Head IHR Secretariat at the World Health Organisation said: “If you have to travel you have to go to the airport.”
She said washing hands with soap and water, and utilising hand sanitiser where necessary was vital.
Meanwhile, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention advised travellers to “avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.”
With this advice in mind, Heathrow’s deep clean and extra stocks of hand sanitiser and soap should be beneficial in warding off the illness.
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Many travellers may also opt to fly with face masks, an article is appearing more and more on the faces of those around the world.
However, Dr Richard Dawood of The Fleet Street Clinic explained that they might not offer all of the protection that users expect.
Speaking to Express.co.uk he said: “Face masks are of limited value: surgical masks offer no protection to the wearer though they may protect others if you are infected yourself.”
Though high filtration masks are useful in stopping the spread of protection, they are difficult to both use and wear.
High filtration masks are protective but difficult to wear and use safely.
“Outside a medical setting, the only situation where I would really consider using them would be during a long delay on the ground in a plane with its air circulation system turned off,” he continued.
Despite heightened safety precautions, the disease has still managed to make its way from the epicentre in Wuhan China, to 42 countries around the world.
Though China is the most heavily hit, with over 78,000 cases at the time of writing, Italy is the most infected region outside of Asia.
The country has 325 cases at the time of writing and has reported 11 fatalities as a result.
In the UK the current number of confirmed cases sits at 11.
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