Air travellers mask up amid fears over coronavirus

Billawati (centre) and her family members sporting face masks after their trip back to Sarawak from China.

KUCHING: Passengers arriving at Kuching International Airport (KIA) from various destinations yesterday were seen wearing surgical face masks as a preventive measure against the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

Billawati Annuar, 38, told Utusan Borneo that she and her family, all of whom had masks on, had gone through multiple health screenings before returning to Sarawak.

“We went through three health screenings – twice in China and once during our transit in Kuala Lumpur before going to Miri,” she said.

Billawati, who works in Guangzhou, China, said the government there had informed its citizens to use the N95 mask and surgical face mask, citing them as the most effective preventative measure against the virus.

She added that the Chinese New Year public holiday was initially just for two days but after the outbreak, the holiday was extended to an entire month in China.

“Wuhan is a transportation hub and is located in the central region of China, so all modes of land transport will go through Wuhan.

“For example, trains and other metro systems will go through Wuhan before reaching other destinations in China and their services have been momentarily suspended.

“To prevent the virus from spreading out from Wuhan, the Chinese government has also cancelled mass public gatherings such as concerts, festivals and sports events.”

She added that the Chinese government had also told the people not to leave their houses and to quarantine themselves at home. She also said the price of surgical masks in China has shot up as sellers took advantage of the situation.

Nur Fatihah (left) and her friend Nur Anisyamimi Jaya from Penang seen in their face masks when met at Kuching International Airport yesterday.

Meanwhile, Nur Fatihah Noordin, a 21-year-old student at a university here, said she chose to wear a face mask as a precaution, especially after having just recovered from a fever. “I had fever for two days but I went for treatment and was declared free of the virus,” she said.

Meanwhile, 46-year-old Zulkifli Tajudin, who was with his family at KIA, said that the decision to don the surgical face mask was based on an advisory he saw on television.

“It’s a personal choice (to wear the mask). We saw it being recommended on television, although we’re not sure if it can actually prevent us from contracting the virus or not,” he said.

The appropriate type of face masks to curb the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus as recommended by the Chinese government, shared by Billawati to Utusan Borneo.

Ron Ramos, who is an air steward with an airline company, said some passengers and cabin crew had already started using face masks as an early preventive measure against the Wuhan coronavirus.

“This matter has been forwarded by cabin crew to upper management to finalise the decision on wearing surgical face masks to protect the health of cabin crew and passengers.

“The face mask is not part of the cabin crew uniform, so we are waiting for the email from upper management on the decision to implement it (the wearing of face masks),” he said.

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