Airlines are stepping up disinfectant procedures on aircraft to try to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus, using strong cleaning agents normally found in hospitals, Time reports.
Qantas, for example, is using a disinfectant called Viraclean, which hospitals use to kill bacteria and viruses like Hepatitis B and herpes simplex.
People using the chemical are advised to use gloves and eye protection. MD-125, used by Korean Air, kills 142 bacteria and viruses, including salmonella, avian flu, HIV, and measles.
The chemicals were applied on planes used to repatriate Australian and Korean citizens from Wuhan, China. The Qantas B747 used in the airlift was cleaned for 36 hours, with items like pillows and blankets discarded, disinfectant sprayed over every cabin surface, and air filters replaced.
Other airlines have ramped up aircraft cleaning across their fleets. Singapore Airlines, for example, has stopped distributing hot towels on some flights and removed shared reading materials, as well as disinfecting meal trays and TV screens after each flight. Headsets, headrest covers, pillow covers, and blankets are also changed after every flight.
Cathay Pacific also is disinfecting its planes after every flight and has suspended duty-free sales during flights to limit person-to-person contact.