Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Concerns centered on Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) are very much on our minds, especially as we work with the travelling public and provide cleaning and maintenance on our aircraft. Like all new viruses, there is evolving research regarding transmission, infection and disease. Human to human transmission has been confirmed for COVID-19 and there is ongoing research on how easily the virus can be transmitted.
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that typically cause mild respiratory disease, such as the common cold. However, at least twice previously, coronaviruses have emerged to infect people and cause severe disease, such as has been seen with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS).
The cases in Wuhan, China – Pneumonia outbreaks have tested negative for both SARS and MERS. To date, the notable symptoms are of COVID-19: Lower respiratory tract illness and include fever, cough and difficulty breathing.
District Lodge 140 Health & Safety has been constantly monitoring the evolving situation in consultation with the Air Canada Corporate Safety Team. We have also had conference calls with other Union groups – (CUPE, CALPA and CALDA) discussing all our concerns with the COVID-19 in the workplace. Air Canada is also monitoring this situation in consultation with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), Transport Canada and Global Affairs. The Airline has been keeping our members updated on the situation frequently via bulletins and FAQ notices as the situation develops.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) as of January 30, 2020. A PHEIC is meant to mobilize international response and facilitate practical measures that can significantly aid in the control of an outbreak. General observed vigilance including standard health precautions, have been issued by health organizations such as the WHO, PHAC and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). As per the PHAC, the immediate health risk from the COVID-19 to the general Canadian public is still deemed low at this present time.
In addition, members of the IAMAW Joint Air Transport Safety Committee (JATSC) (Grand Lodge H&S Committee) have been very involved in these issues that concern the varied jobs that our members perform across North America. The JATSC have also participated in conference calls with our respective airlines that have included the Medical, Safety, Emergency Preparedness, and operating departments to discuss the adequacy of current policies and procedures.
JATSC members are also sharing information with other aviation union affiliates of the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department along with principles and senior officials from agencies charged with aviation safety, health and security about a coordinated response to the ongoing Novel Coronavirus outbreak.
As this issue continues to unfold, we will likely learn more about this virus and how to effectively protect ourselves, but there are some basic precautions that you should take:
1. Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly with soap and water, as soon as they are available. The CDC states that hands should be rubbed in soap lather for at least 20 seconds.
2. Alcohol-based hand sanitizers (60% or more of alcohol) can be used when water is not readily available. The World Health Organization advises that washing hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub kills viruses that may be on your hands.
3. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
4. Know and understand your company’s policy on protection from the virus and follow the policies. Don’t take short cuts.
5. Make sure that you are aware of any bulletins, alerts, or protocols that your employer has communicated concerning the Coronavirus. The CDC (Center for Disease Control), the WHO, and OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) all have a lot of current info on the virus as well.
If you develop a fever and symptoms of respiratory illness, such as a cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travel from China or outside of North America, you should call ahead to a Healthcare Professional and mention your recent travel. In addition, if you have had close contact with someone showing these symptoms who has also recently travelled from these areas, you should call ahead to a Healthcare Professional and mention your close contact and their recent travel.
Your Healthcare Professional will work with the local public health authority to determine if you need to be tested for the COVID-19 virus.
For additional information can be found below:
District Lodge 140 H&S and the JATSC will continue to participate in these discussions, providing input concerning our member’s protection and will continue to update this situation as more information becomes available.
IAMAW District Lodge 140 H&S Coordinator
JATSC Member representing DL 140