Countries across the globe are setting up preventive measures to stop the spread of the Coronavirus, as new cases of the virus are discovered every day.
Rabat – Morocco’s Ministry of Health implemented a health control plan in all Moroccan international airports and ports on Sunday, January 25, to avoid the spread of the Coronavirus “2019-nCOV” in Morocco.
The plan includes seven steps and begins before the planes land, explains the Chief Doctor at Mohammed V Airport, and the national coordinator of border health control at the Ministry of Health, Mohamed Moussif.
The system, based on the World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations and international health regulations, along with the provisions of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), aims to monitor, prepare for, and respond to all threats to public health in Morocco.
“The control of contagious diseases of an epidemic nature is a process that is well regulated by international bodies,” assures Moussif.
The plan is divided into two parts. The first part concerns providing the staff at land and sea border crossings of the country with “specific personal protective equipment (gloves, masks, bibs, etc.), thermal measuring devices, ambulances, and specific isolation and quarantine measures.”
The second part is a control process over seven stages. The first phase begins before flights from regions affected by the Coronavirus land. During the flight, flight crews of all airlines follow a procedure to detect suspicious patients, isolate them from other passengers, and warn the control tower of the destination airport.
After the plane’s landing, the airport authorities will designate a parking lot away from other planes to avoid mixing the flight’s passengers with passengers from other flights and airport staff.
A health officer then asks several questions to the flight crew members to ascertain if they have noticed anything abnormal on board and to know if any passenger complained of a headache, diarrhea, or vomiting.
The passengers then, one by one, pass through a thermal diagnosis test beginning with an infrared thermometer reading and then with a thermal camera scan.
Passengers also fill out forms from the airport’s medical service including their personal and contact information. The data allows the Ministry of Health to do a follow-up on the passengers until the incubation phase of 14 days expires.
If health officers suspect any passenger of having contracted the disease, they take them to an isolation room where they undergo an examination by a specialist doctor. Casablanca’s Mohammed V airport has two isolation rooms, while other airports have at least one.
If the specialist doctor confirms the case, the health officers take the passenger urgently to a hospital with negative pressure isolation facilities designated by the Ministry of Health.
The final step is disinfecting the plane, using products that meet the standards of the aircraft manufacturer and those of the airline’s technical department.
Casablanca-Beijing flight still operational
While several countries, such as France, have decided to suspend travel to China, the recently-inaugurated Casablanca-Beijing air route is still operational, according to Royal Air Maroc (RAM).
However, “control is rigorous on these flights, and planes arriving from China are prioritized,” assures Moussif, confirming that “no case has been detected in Morocco yet.”
The coronavirus, designated as “2019-nCOV,” first appeared in December 2019, in Wuhan, Hubei province, Central China. At the time of writing, the disease has claimed the lives of at least 81 people in China and around 2,744 cases have been recorded.
Health experts are still trying to understand how the coronavirus is being transmitted and who is at most risk.
The coronavirus is a large family of viruses, including the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
Common symptoms among victims of the virus include a runny nose, cough, sore throat, and a headache. People with a weak immune system, such as the young and the elderly, are at risk of the virus turning into a more serious respiratory tract illness.
Chinese authorities said the coronavirus was passed from animals to humans and can spread from person to person. Patients to date have typically experienced a mild cough for a week, followed by shortness of breath.
The virus is spreading over the world and has now reached as far as Canada, France, and Australia.