Can You Disinfect a Plane Contaminated With Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)?

Royal Jordanian staff disinfecting aircraft potentially contaminated with novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Royal Jordanian staff disinfecting the business class cabin

Giraffe Global News Update

I’m First Class Giraffe, not Epidemiologist Giraffe, but I’ve taken a keen interest in the recent novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak. Despite not having any sort of medical qualifications many giraffe friends have been asking me if it’s safe to travel on a plane if it was contaminated with the virus. I got the answer today in my Facebook feed.

Royal Jordanian recently organized a rescue flight to bring Jordanians and Arabs from Wuhan, China to Amman, Jordan. While there weren’t any passengers onboard who were confirmed to have the Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) the risk exists that the aircraft may have been contaminated.

The airline proudly shared details of the rescue flight on their Facebook page and also shared details about the subsequent decontamination. They said “The sterilization and disinfection process went through three phases and took over two hours, following the international standards of the civil aviation authorities and Boeing’s protocol in this regard, which helps kill 100% of bacteria, virus and fungi.”

Royal Jordanian staff disinfecting aircraft potentially contaminated with novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Royal Jordanian staff disinfecting the economy class cabin

I decided to do a bit of research to determine if disinfection was actually possible. One thing to note first is that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the risk of catching the virus from a surface is low. The primary transmission method is respiratory droplets (Achoo!).

With that said the World Health Organization recommends cleaning aircraft that may be contaminated with hydrogen peroxide–based disinfectants.

They go on to recommend a specific cleaning regimen:

“The following surfaces should be cleaned and then disinfected at the seat of the suspected case(s), adjacent seat(s) in the same row, adjacent row(s) and other areas, as noted below:

  • armrests
  • seatbacks (the plastic and/or metal part)
  • tray tables
  • seatbelt latches
  • light and air controls, cabin crew call button and overhead compartment handles
  • adjacent walls and windows
  • individual video monitor
  • lavatory or lavatories used by the sick traveller: door handle, locking device, toilet
    seat, faucet (tap), washbasin, adjacent walls and counter.”

This is exactly what Royal Jordanian did. It looks like they’re using a Atomer II ULV Sprayer, which dispenses a sterilizing chemical.

Royal Jordanian staff disinfecting aircraft potentially contaminated with novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Royal Jordanian staff disinfecting the economy class cabin

The cleaning wasn’t limited to the passenger cabin and extended into the cockpit.

Royal Jordanian staff disinfecting cockpit potentially contaminated with novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Royal Jordanian staff disinfecting cockpit

The cargo hold also got some attention.

Royal Jordanian staff disinfecting cargo hold potentially contaminated with novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)
Royal Jordanian staff disinfecting cargo hold

Overall Verdict

First Class Giraffe Concerned

I personally would still be nervous knowing that I was traveling on an aircraft used for an evacuation from Wuhan even after disinfection. The evolution of the virus is something I’ll watch closely over the coming weeks.

All photos credited to Royal Jordanian

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s