All pilots with Taiwan’s largest carrier China Airlines will be quarantined for 14 days amid a COVID-19 outbreak, the island’s health minister said Monday.
The outbreak is linked to an airport hotel where many of the pilots stayed and began last month. So far, 35 infections have been confirmed.
Health minister Chen Shih-chung explained that quarantining all China Airlines pilots currently in Taiwan — and any who return — is the only way to break the chain of transmission.
“This will have a big impact on China Airlines, on its passenger and freighter flights, and for the crew, too,” he said. “But for the safety of the whole community we cannot but make this decision.”
Health authorities believe some of the pilots became infected overseas and spread the virus once they returned to Taiwan — which has otherwise generally kept the bug under control with sporadic domestic cases. Others may have been infected by pilots from other airlines staying at the same hotel, according to officials.
The quarantine will only end once the pilots have tested negative, according to Chen.
Still, China Airlines, a major cargo carrier, said the outbreak won’t lead to “a total grounding” and that it would split quarantining pilots into groups to try “as much as possible to maintain flight operations.”
Cargo flights will be prioritized, and the airline will “go all out” to ensure they can still fly, though there will still be disruptions, according to China Airlines.
“The short-term reduction in Taiwan’s import and export capacity will affect the delivery time of goods,” the carrier said, without elaborating.
With Post wires