Flight from Russia source of E. China Nanjing outbreak that prompts closure of ‘Avatar’ set
A flight from Russia, which was suspended several times by the Chinese aviation regulator for carrying COVID-19 patients, was identified as the source of the latest outbreak at Nanjing Lukou International Airport in East China’s Jiangsu Province, the Nanjing health authority said on Friday.
Airport cleaning staff were infected while cleaning the airplane’s cabin, it said.
The latest COVID-19 outbreak, which had involved more than 200 people in six provinces and two municipalities — Beijing and Chongqing — exposed the loopholes in the virus prevention work of some airports, which had “loosened guard” as the epidemic is generally controlled domestically, public health experts told the Global Times on Friday.
Virus sequences that infected the cleaners, the earliest patients in the outbreak, were the same as those found on imported cases on flight CA910, which arrived in Nanjing on July 10 from Russia, the local authority said.
Virus analysis confirmed they were on the same infection chain, and the sequence is the highly contagious Delta variant.
The cleaners might have failed to obey personal protection requirements when cleaning the cabin. The cleaners were in charge of disposing garbage for domestic and international flights, creating the possibility of others getting infected by contacting the cleaners or contaminated environment, the Nanjing Center for Disease Control and Prevention said at a press briefing on Friday.
Flight CA910 has been suspended at least 10 times due to “circuit breaker” measures for inbound flights, which stipulated a flight be suspended for a week if five or more passengers tested positive, or longer with more infected passengers.
In its 10 flights that triggered a “circuit breaker,” CA910 has flown a total of 69 COVID-19 patients from Moscow to Chinese cities, including Nanjing, Tianjin and Zhengzhou, China Youth Daily reported on Friday.
For inbound flights from countries with a serious pandemic situation, or a flight like CA910 that has been repeatedly suspended, the airport “should have taken stricter examination and disinfection measures,” Zhou Zijun, a professor at Peking University’s School of Public Health, told the Global Times.
“Obviously, Nanjing air authorities neither paid enough attention to the international flights, nor properly managed its [cleaning] team,” Zhou told the Global Times.
Nanjing has so far reported 184 confirmed cases and one silent carrier since the first case was reported on July 20.