Taiwan to send China Airlines pilots into quarantine in bid to stop Covid-19 outbreak
- Health minister says it will have a big impact but it’s the only way to break the chain of transmission
- Carrier will try ‘as much as possible to maintain flight operations’ and says it’s ‘not a total grounding’
“This will have a big impact on China Airlines, on its passenger and freighter flights, and for the crew too. But for the safety of the whole community we cannot but make this decision,” he said.
The pilots will only be allowed out of quarantine once they have tested negative, Chen said.
China Airlines, a major cargo carrier, said it would split the quarantining pilots into groups and try “as much as possible to maintain flight operations; it is not a total grounding”.
China Airlines will prioritise cargo flights, but there will be disruption even as they “go all out” to ensure they can still fly, it said.
“The short-term reduction in Taiwan’s import and export capacity will affect the delivery time of goods,” China Airlines said, without elaborating.
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Taiwan’s health authorities believe some of the pilots got infected first overseas, then spread the infection upon returning to Taiwan, and that others could have been infected by pilots from other airlines staying at the same hotel.
The government has been alarmed by the cases as some of the pilots went to bars and restaurants in northern Taiwan before their infections were confirmed, running the risk of community transmission, though no infections have been linked to that yet.
The airport hotel has since been evacuated and is undergoing a deep clean.