CORONAVIRUS/Taiwan to tighten COVID-19 control regulations for flight crews
Taipei, Dec. 23 (CNA) Taiwan will impose more stringent regulations for flight crews, by the end of the week, to close loopholes in its prevention and control measures against COVID-19, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said Wednesday, after it reported a cluster infection the previous day, which was linked to a commercial airline pilot.
The CECC said it is coordinating with the Civil Aeronautics Administration (CAA) on the new rules and penalties, which may range from increased fines to a reduction in flights by the airlines.
Currently, flight crews are not subject to the standard 14-day quarantine when they enter Taiwan, but rather pilots are required to quarantine for three days, and flight attendants for five days.
It is a special trust-based system that is dependent on the integrity of the flight crews and is overseen by the airline companies, which will be penalized if the system is not honored, CECC head and Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said at news conference.
He said some loopholes in the airlines' current control and prevention practices have led to instances of cabin crews not wearing masks while on duty and leaving their designated hotels before the end of their quarantine periods.
Chen made the comments after the CECC reported Tuesday that an EVA Airways pilot from New Zealand, who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19, had broken the company's COVID-19 control protocols by refusing to wear a mask while on duty, among other actions.
According to the CECC, the pilot infected not only two of his colleagues, but also a woman in Taipei, who became Taiwan's first domestic case in 253 days.
In response, EVA Air issued a public apology Wednesday, saying it will tighten its disease control and prevention practices. Later that day, it announced that it had fired the pilot.
From now on, flight crews in quarantine will have to wear not only masks but also gloves and goggles when they open their room doors to collect their meals, and the door locks will be upgraded to record when they go in and out, EVA Air said.
During flights, pilots will be allowed at alternate times to take off their masks to eat or drink, and a monitoring system will be developed to encourage staff to report any violations by their colleagues, the airline said.
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