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21 May 2009
Cathay Pacific Cooperates with Health Authorities on Confirmed Case of Influenza A (H1N1) in Taiwan

Cathay Pacific Airways was notified by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Taiwan today (Thursday, 21 May) that a female passenger on CX831 from New York to Hong Kong (19 May departure) with a connecting flight on CX468 from Hong Kong to Taipei (20 May departure) has since tested positive for Influenza A (H1N1).

CX831 arrived at Hong Kong International Airport at 6:57pm on 20 May while CX468 arrived at Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei at 9:42pm the same day.

The passenger was seated in seat 61C in the Economy Class cabin on CX831. There were 63 passengers in the same cabin zone, i.e. the same row and the three rows in front and three rows behind her. Twenty-four of these 63 passengers ended their journey in Hong Kong while the remaining 39 have since left for other destinations including Beijing (2), Shanghai (8), Manila (12), Taipei (7), Singapore (9) and Hangzhou (1).

On flight CX468, the passenger concerned was seated in 37A. There were 50 passengers in the same cabin zone, all of whom ended their journey in Taipei.

Of all the 301 passengers on CX831, twenty-two of them took connecting flights to Taipei on the same day, including 11 on CX468, seven on CX464 and four on CX408.

On CX831, there were 301 passengers, four cockpit crew and 14 cabin crew. On CX468, there were 310 passengers, two cockpit crew and 15 cabin crew.

Cathay Pacific will comply with requests from health authorities in Hong Kong and Taiwan to provide details of the passengers and the operation crew manifest to determine if medical follow-up is necessary.

In accordance with recommendations and guidance from the World Health Organisation (WHO), International Air Transport Association (IATA), the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Hong Kong Department of Health on cabin cleaning and disinfection, Cathay Pacific has already stepped up cabin-cleaning measures for all aircraft. The enhanced transit cleanings procedures cover the cabin, bathrooms, galleys, common areas, individual seat and meal table. All used pillows, blankets, headset covers and head rest covers are replaced.

The cleaning/disinfectant solution used is hospital grade biocide. This is extremely effective on bacteria, viruses and fungi, but harmless to humans and the environment. The transit aircraft onboard cleaning system has been upgraded since SARS and has remained in effect since. It complies with IATA/WHO guidelines for the disinfection of aircraft for suspected communicable disease cases.

Cathay Pacific would like to reassure passengers that the airline adopts HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arresters) filtration systems that are capable of filtering 99.999% of dust particles and airborne contaminates, ensuring the highest possible quality of cabin air. This state-of-the art filter technology is the same as that used in a hospital surgery room.

As soon as the Influenza A (H1N1) threat became clear in late April, Cathay Pacific posted Public Health Alert Notices at all check-in counters at more than 72 airports world-wide advising passengers that if they were feeling unwell with flu-like symptoms, they should immediately identify themselves to airline staff for assistance or defer their travel until they have recovered or sought medical attention.

Updated health messages are being broadcast on all flights to inform both crew and passengers on the current situation. All inbound passengers to Hong Kong are being asked to sign a health declaration form. Report mechanisms have been set up with the Hong Kong health authorities to ensure timeliness of reporting.

The airline has also increased the stock of face masks available inflight and staff have been advised to take a temperature check at home before going to work. Proper procedures have also been put in place for where and when crew are advised to wear masks when dealing with suspected cases, and staff choosing to wear masks may do so. Hygiene measures have been intensified at Cathay Pacific City and other facilities. Catering hygiene measures have been upgraded since SARS and they have remained in effect.

Cathay Pacific will continue to liaise closely with the Department of Health, the WHO, International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and The International Air Transport Association (IATA) on preventive measures.

The WHO is not recommending travel restrictions related to the outbreak of the Influenza A (H1N1) virus, as limiting travel and imposing travel restrictions would have very little effect on stopping the virus from spreading.

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