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March 27, 2020

Coronavirus worries PIA employees as flights continue

Peshawar

March 27, 2020

PESHAWAR: While Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has continued its domestic flights, its employees are worried about coronavirus as one of their colleagues has already been under treatment for the disease.

A few days ago, PIA had announced to suspend operations till April 4 due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, PIA’s general manager for flight operations Amir Bashir told The News that PIA has cancelled international flights but domestic flights are continuing.

To a question if coronavirus outbreak might affect people due to the flights, he said that they use proper screening and check-up for coronavirus.

However, there are fears among the PIA employees amid the prevailing coronavirus scare. A flight steward of PIA, Waqas Jahangir, has already been under treatment after testing positive for coronavirus while some others have also reportedly developed symptoms similar to the disease.

Asadullah, a flight steward and colleague of Waqas Jahangir, told this correspondent that now the Waqas’s wife has also tested positive for the coronavirus while his children and other people with whom he had interacted would also have to undergo tests.

“I remember that Waqas only complained of flu but he tested positive for the virus later,” he recalled. Another PIA employee said: “The arrangements are very poor on the flights and I am sure that 20 percent of PIA staff would test positive if the testing of all the employees is conducted properly.”

He added that another of their colleague had been stopped from performing duty on the flights. He said she was told that she should not board flights because she had meals with the coronavirus-affected Waqas Jahangir.Ismail Khoso, from the Public Relations wing of Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) headquarters in Karachi, told this scribe that the CAA only follows instructions from the government with regards to the flights. He also said that other airlines have stopped operations but only the PIA is continuing with the flights.

To a question, he said that at all the airports the visitors and staff members are checked through medical equipment and only the suspected cases are subjected to full coronavirus testing afterward. PIA’s general manager medical Naeem Yaqoob refused to comment on the issue. However, PIA’s manager public relations Abdullah said PIA has around 15,000 employees and it is not possible to test all of them for coronavirus. “We can test an employee if his or her condition deteriorates to a certain level,” he said.

He also rejected the report that there were poor arrangements on the flights. He maintained that proper sanitisation procedures were being conducted on all PIA flights.