We’ve seen the incredible amount of work it takes a team of cleaners to disinfect an aircraft. With that in mind, imagine the resources needed to disinfect nearly an entire airport terminal. However, on April 3rd that’s just what happened at Wuhan Tianhe Airport’s Terminal 3 as the city prepares to re-open its main airport. Wuhan is largely believed to be the initial source of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Chinese epicenter of the virus.
Preparing to resume operations
According to Chinese media outlet Xinhuanet, a team of 161 professionals were tasked with disinfecting 570,000 square meters of Terminal 3 at Wuhan Tianhe International Airport. Xinhuanet, known as the official state-run press agency of China, identified those performing the disinfection as firefighters. On April 3rd, the large team of firefighters, fully clad in hazmat suits, got to work disinfecting main facilities such as benches, elevators and trolleys in the terminal.
This massive endeavor is being undertaken with the goal of resuming operations at the airport on April 8th. This is when the city of Wuhan is set to lift its travel restrictions.
Furthermore, the airport has been conducting training and assessments of key service personnel, as well as running checks on major facilities such as fresh air systems. Conducting “risk evaluations” has been another activity undertaken by authorities in preparation for resuming operation.
Is it necessary?
If science is to be trusted then it actually isn’t necessary. That’s because according to the results from a recent New England Journal of Medicine study, the airport has been closed far longer than the virus can survive effectively on surfaces.
According to the Guardian, the study tested how long the virus can remain stable on different kinds of surfaces, within a controlled laboratory setting. Researchers found that it was still detectable on the following surfaces with varying lengths of time:
- Copper for up to four hours
- Cardboard for up to 24 hours
- Plastic and steel for up to 72 hours
The study makes the important point that the amount of virus decreased rapidly over time on each of those surfaces. Thus, the risk of infection from touching them would probably decrease over time as well.
As the Wuhan Airport has been closed since late January, two months have passed, and the virus is not likely to have survived in a shuttered, unoccupied, airport terminal without a host.
However, this act of disinfection is just as important for the sake of the traveling public and their peace of mind. With so much still to learn about this virus, nothing should be left to chance.
The re-opening of Wuhan’s Airport is a promising sign of things to come for the rest of the world once this pandemic runs its course. Physical distancing is the most important step each person can take towards the collective goal of beating this virus.
While it is a step in the direction of ‘normalcy’, there will still be a considerable amount of time that needs to pass before we can return to “business as usual”.
culled from simpleflying.com