#BREAKING: Emirates Plane Carrying Zambia Covid-19 Cases Lands In Harare

ZIMBABWE travellers who were on board an Emirates flight EK713 which arrived in Harare on Sunday, March 15, 2020 after dropping off passengers in Lusaka including a Zambian couple which later tested positive for Coronavirus could have been exposed  to the deadly  virus, HealthTimes can reveal.

By Michael Gwarisa

Zambia Health Minister, Dr Chitalu Chilufya on Wednesday confirmed that his country had recorded its first two Coronavirus (Covid-19) cases, a Zambian couple that had gone on a 10 day holiday in France. The couple  arrived in Zambia aboard an Emirates flight on Sunday only to be tested a day later after the husband had shown symptoms of Covid-19.

Even though the Zambian health minister did not disclose the Aircraft code and its route, investigations by this publication reveal that the Zambian couple arrived in Zambia aboard Airline EK713 which ply the Dubai-Lusaka-Harare route.

The flight EK713 travels the Dubai-Lusaka-Harare route and on the day in question, the flight left Lusaka Zambia at 15:51 and arrived in Harare at 16:30. The return flight, EK714 travels from Harare-Lusaka then Dubai.

This publication is yet to ascertain the number of passengers the aircraft dropped off in Harare.

Sources privy to the developments told this publication that, “Flight EK713 goes from Dubai-Lusaka-Harare, thus, the passengers from France disembarked in Lusaka before the aircraft travelled on to Harare.”

Emirates Airlines has since issued a statement indicating that they have cancelled all Harare-Lusaka routes at the back of the prevailing global health challenges that have been brought about by the Coronavirus (Covid-19).

Flight EK713 Flight History (note the highlighted part
Flight EK713 Flight History (note the highlighted part)

Health experts have warned government to track the travellers who were on board the emirates flight as soon as possible considering that South Africa is currently reeling from an explosive increase in cases as a result of a few cases which only started as a few from tourists who had travelled to Italy.

The Airline also said they had ramped up efforts to disinfect their aircrafts with an approved chemical that is proven to kill viruses and germs, leaves a long-lasting protective coating against new contamination of viruses, bacteria and fungi on surfaces, and is eco-friendly.

“In response to the latest developments in the COVID-19 outbreak around the world, Emirates is taking extra steps that go above and beyond industry and regulatory requirements to ensure its customers’ health and comfort, and provide them with confidence and peace of mind when planning their travel.

“On all aircraft departing from its hub in Dubai, Emirates has implemented enhanced cleaning and complete disinfection of all cabins as a precaution. In line with the latest expert medical finding that the COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted by touch, Emirates has placed its greatest focus on surface cleaning.”

The cleaning process includes a comprehensive wipe down of all surfaces – from windows, tray tables, seatback screens, armrests, seats, in-seat controls, panels, air vents and overhead lockers in the cabin, to lavatories, galleys and crew rest areas. All of this is done in addition to other normal procedures such as changing head rest covers on all seats, replacement of reading materials, vacuuming, and more.

To complete this thorough cleaning process within an hour while the aircraft is preparing for its next mission, requires a team of 18 trained cleaners on a Boeing 777, and a team of 36 for an A380. In a 24-hour period on an average day, some 248 aircraft go through this process.

Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe’s health and child care ministry says they have made over 9000 followups since January 24 from people who came into the country from Covid-19 afflicted regions and they have conducted tests for the Victoria Falls and Bulawayo suspects and the results came out negative today. The passengers are being monitored for 21 days in accordance with the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.

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