How are planes decontaminated after sick passengers?

Tiny dead birds found at Washington Dulles airport, U.S. seizes


Are there any specific methods for cleaning the plane after a patient suspected of having coronavirus or some other contagious illness has left the plane?

– Keegan Miller, Midlothian, Virginia

Yes, there are specific maintenance procedures for cleaning an aircraft after suspected contamination. This would not be specific to the coronavirus (coronavirus is a family of viruses; the specific one to which you refer is 2019-NCoV). 

Any contamination is treated the same, with disinfectant procedures. This is part of an airline’s emergency response plan for contaminants. 

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Why are passengers that appear sick not required to wear masks? Stop it at the source!

– DMR, Byron, California

If a passenger is ill, he or she may not be allowed to travel. That decision is up to the regulators and the airline. However, I do not know of a legal means (i.e., a regulation) that could require a passenger to wear a mask. 

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I’m traveling to Romania in May for a vacation. Should I be concerned about the coronavirus at the airport or on the plane at that point?

– Teo, Michigan

The coronavirus situation currently affecting much of China has been changing on a daily basis and is likely to be dramatically different by May. Hopefully, it will be over by then. 

In the meantime, check the websites for the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the latest information including recommendations regarding travel

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John Cox is a retired airline captain with US Airways and runs his own aviation safety consulting company, Safety Operating Systems.


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