Chinese agency advises flight crews to wear diapers to reduce COVID-19 risk in lavatory: reports

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has issued some unusual advice for flight attendants looking for ways to avoid contracting coronavirus while working: It suggested they wear diapers to reduce their need to use airplane lavatories.

The agency, which is China’s counterpart to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, offered that suggestion in a new document called “Technical Guidelines for Epidemic Prevention and Control for Airlines” that was published in late November, according to reports from CNN and Fox News.

In the section regarding personal protective equipment, the CAAC recommends that when flying in and out of high-risk areas with infection rates over 500 per 100,000 residents, flight attendants wear “medical masks, double-layer disposable medical gloves, goggles, disposable hats, disposable protective clothing, and disposable shoe covers.”

That part isn’t too eyebrow-raising, but the next line is.

“It is recommended that cabin crew members wear disposable diapers and avoid using the lavatories barring special circumstances to avoid infection risks,” the manual says.

It’s not yet fully understood how great an infection risk that fomites – genetic material found on surfaces like tray tables and lavatory toilet seats and sinks – pose to passengers and crew.

A Vietnamese study that examined an outbreak of 15 cases among Vietnam Airlines cabin crew and passengers on a March flight from London to Hanoi noted that 12 passengers from business class were infected, along with one flight attendant who was working the economy cabin.

The authors noted, “Airline crew often use business class toilets while on board, which might explain the case among the crew serving in economy class, for whom no other potential source of infection could be established.”

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