More than 59 Qantas employees and some of their family members have become infected with Covid-19 since the outbreak began. Qantas Staff are now considering taking legal action alleging that the airline failed to protect them against COVID-19.
Despite Qantas’s medical director’s claims that the risk of cabin crew catching the virus on a flight was “low”, there were 15 cases linked with a return flight from Santiago and 4 cases after an arrival from Dallas. A cabin crew member from another international flight has confirmed her asthmatic daughter is now also infected.
These new cases are raising concern that international airline crew could become a direct avenue for COVID-19 infections into Australia.
The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) have offered updated guidance to airlines. This includes meal and drink service alteration on flights and greater social distancing measures not only between crew and passengers but also between crew members.
When reaching their destination, crew must self-isolate in their hotel room, maintain high standards of personal hygiene and only order room service. They were previously permitted to dine in hotel restaurants. Further measures the committee have recommended include that crew must either self-isolate away from family between flights or self-isolate for 14 days on return, whichever is shorter.
Qantas, preparing for a series of limited international flights to locations such as London, Los Angeles, Auckland and Hong Kong, state they have adopted the new policies following this guidance. They have also confirmed they will pay hotel fees for staff who wish to isolate away from their family members and that all staff will be paid their normal rate during isolation.
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