Mumbai: An Air India cabin crew member, who was part of the team that operated a Newark-Mumbai flight last month, has tested positive for coronavirus and has been admitted to a hospital here, a source said on Thursday.
This is at least the second instance of an Air India group staff testing positive. Last week, a woman customer care of the airline’s ground handling subsidiary AIASL was admitted to a hospital after she had coronavirus infection.
“Our cabin crew member has been admitted to the Kasturba BMC hospital in south-central Mumbai after she was tested positive for coronavirus infection. She had operated Air india’s Mumbai’s flight from Newark (the US) on March 20,” the source said.
According to the source, efforts are on to shift her to a private hospital.
When asked for comments on the cabin crew member testing positive for coronavirus, an Air India spokesperson said, “We would not like to make any comment on this”.
Air India Chairman and Managing Director Rajiv Bansal told media on Thursday that there there have been some cases of ground staff who fell ill. “Luckily, they have all tested negative,” he said.
“Our medical team was there to assist them. Our cabin crew have been advised home quarantine after undertaking any flight.
“Since we are operating very few flights, we have a large number of cabin crew and cockpit crew available. So, we are able to provide them with that gap so that they can be under home quarantine and only then come to do their duty on the next flight. Every kind of support is being given to them,” he said.
Regarding one of its staff being infected by coronavirus, AIASL CEO A K Sharma, on March 30, said it was suspected that the woman staff contracted the infection during the course of her duty.”
He also said that another 14 employees who had come in contact with the woman staff were asked to go on “home quarantine”.
On March 29, the woman staffer of the Air India Airports Services Ltd (AIASL), who is in her early 20s, was admitted to the BMC hospital due to fever and breathing problem.
Recently, Air India’s two pilot unions alleged that “sub-standard” protective equipment were provided to crew on recent rescue flights that were operated in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.
Regarding the allegations, Bansal, on Thursday, said cockpit crew, cabin crew and ground handling staff are of paramount importance to the airline.
“We take every care to ensure that full protection is provided to them. We have made available sanitisers in our aircraft. We have made available hazmat suits, gloves and masks.
“The entire PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) has been made available to them. We have brought out guidelines and advisories for all our cabin crew, cockpit crew as well as our ground handling staff,” Bansal said.
Further, he said the airline has a large medical team, which has been reaching out to anyone who has some doubts or needs some clarification.
Since the coronavirus outbreak, Air India has operated a series of rescue flights to bring back Indians stranded in various countries, including China (Wuhan), Italy (Milan and Rome) and Japan. It has also operating relief flight to Israel (Tel Aviv) and chartered services to Germany (Frankfurt) to fly back foreign nationals stranded in India.
As part of larger efforts to curb spreading of coronavirus infections, domestic and international flights have been suspended by aviation regulator DGCA till April 14.
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