CONTINENTAL PLANS AIRCRAFT SARS PRECAUTIONS

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HAGATNA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, April 28) - Responding to
recent studies showing that the virus associated with severe acute respiratory
syndrome, or SARS, can survive on surfaces for as long as 24 hours, a
Continental Micronesia official said the airline has armed itself with
germicidal cleaners.

Researchers are trying to determine how long the virus can
survive on objects, but a preliminary study in Hong Kong found that the virus
can survive on both dry and wet surfaces for as long as 24 hours.

Dan Morgan, Continental Micronesia's managing director for
operations, said if any suspected SARS case arrives in Guam on a Continental
airplane, they will clean the cabin with a strong germicide, using crews
instructed in Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations.

If no suspected SARS cases are reported, however, the airline
will follow its normal procedures, which is a nightly cleaning with its normal
germicidal cleanser, he said.

The airline does not screen or clean cargo it brings from Hong
Kong and other regions that have reported SARS cases, but Morgan said cargo is
generally retained for 24 hours for security purposes anyway.

As of yesterday, 4,600 people have been infected and 318 have
died from the mysterious illness worldwide since it was first detected in China
in November, according to wire reports.

Morgan said public health workers in both Hong Kong and Taipei
screen travelers before they leave those cities with a process that includes
taking the temperature of every traveler. He said no one had been turned away
from a Continental flight so far.

Some 2,000 visitors are expected to arrive in Guam from Japan,
Korea and Hong Kong next month to take an accounting exam, and there have been
concerns they may bring the deadly disease with them, according to Pacific Daily
News files.

Morgan said the airline does not intend to further restrict its
flights, and expressed confidence in the ability of the screening process to
keep Guam safe from the disease.

The airline has already reduced its flights from Hong Kong from
14 flights per week to two, and has completely suspended flights from Newark to
Hong Kong, he said. So far, the airline has continued twice-daily flights to the
Philippines, Morgan said.

"I know there have been some reported cases in the Philippines,
but so far we haven't had any official guidance from immigration," on screening
those flights, Morgan said.

Morgan said the decision to make the flight reductions was based
on lack of demand, and not out of fear of SARS.

"If we cut flights because we were afraid of SARS, we wouldn't
want to fly at all," Morgan said.

April 28, 2003

Pacific Daily News:
www.guampdn.com

 

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