Airlines around the world are now using hospital-grade disinfectants to sterilize planes to stave off the coronavirus
- Airlines are turning to hospital-grade disinfectants to clean planes that may have been exposed to the novel coronavirus.
- Qantas and Korean Air, which evacuated people from the virus' epicenter, used disinfectants designed to kill bugs like herpes, MERS, HIV, avian flu, and salmonella, according to Bloomberg.
- United Airlines cleans planes after international flights with a disinfectant it began using during the 2014 Ebola outbreak.
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As the coronavirus outbreak continues to spread around the world, airlines are turning to tools more common in hospitals than on jetliners to prevent spreading the virus.
According to a Bloomberg report, airlines that have been involved with evacuating passengers from outbreak hotspots have particularly come to rely on heavy-duty disinfectants, the type which hospitals use to kill microbes like herpes and "superbugs" like MRSA on surfaces.
Australian carrier Qantas, for example, has used a product called Viraclean to disinfect Boeing 747 jets that evacuated Australians from Wuhan, China and Tokyo, Japan. Viraclean kills a range of microbes, including bacteria and viruses, and is potent enough that cleaners are told to wear gloves and eye protection.
The cleanings took 36 hours, according to Bloomberg, with disinfectant sprayed throughout the cabin twice, surfaces wiped down, and air filters replaced.
Korean Air, which also evacuated people from Wuhan, used a version of a disinfectant called D-125, which is used in healthcare and farming industries to kill bacteria and viruses including salmonella, avian flu, and HIV. Certain surfaces, including seat covers and curtains separating cabins, were discarded and replaced.
Although typical airplane cleanings don't always involve full disinfecting - especially in-between passenger flights - that could change as airlines seek to assuage customer fears and as more viral hotspots appear, leading to a higher chance of carrying infected passengers.
United Airlines told Business Insider that its procedures including wiping down all hard surfaces that passengers may have come into contact with after each international flight. The airline said it began adding a disinfectant to the cleaning solution following the 2014 Ebola outbreak, and continues to use it. United did not immediately provide details on the type of disinfectant.
Airlines have been feeling the brunt of coronavirus fears, with global airline stocks plummeting this week as investors brace for a potential severe and prolonged impact. Airlines have cancelled flights and suspended routes to the most heavily affected areas, and offered greater flexibility to passengers ticketed to certain regions.
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