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Lori Bassani, national president of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, said in a press release that the union wants American Airlines and other airlines to take “immediate emergency measures” such as providing crew with details like signs and symptoms of the coronavirus and procedures to deal with anyone who may be ill with the virus.
“The health of our crew members and passengers is a top priority for us and we refuse to compromise their health or safety in any way,” Bassani said. “I am urging American Airlines and all airlines to do everything humanly possible to contain the outbreak and minimize any chance of exposure. We will continue to speak out to ensure airlines are erring on the side of caution and putting our members’ health first in these dangerous times.”
The union represents more than 27,000 flight attendants at American Airlines.
A spokesperson for American Airlines told FOX Business that the company has been working closely with its medical director to update crew members and share best practices to protect themselves and customers since news of the virus was first reported. The airline also started giving more hand sanitizer wipes for flights to China.
"The safety of our customers and team members is our top priority," the spokesperson said. "We are in close contact with the US Customs & Border Protection, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and public health officials and will coordinate with them on any required health and safety related measures."
Health officials have been screening passengers at five U.S. airports for the virus.
The coronavirus, which causes respiratory illness, originated in China. As of Thursday evening, at least 830 cases of the virus had been confirmed in China, including 25 deaths. Only one case has been confirmed in the U.S. so far.
Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director of the World Health Organization, said on Thursday that the virus is a public health emergency in China, but it has “not yet become a global health emergency.”