A Korean Air flight attendant who frequented LAX has emerged as the first instance of a cabin crew member testing positive for the coronavirus since it first broke out of the Wuhan city epicenter in January.
What’s more, a source at the airport says officials started notifying passengers who might’ve traveled between Jan. 1, 2020 to present day to visit their doctor out of an abundance of caution, Your Content has learned.
The carrier confirmed: “In the case of any confirmed case onboard, all employees who were likely to have contacted the patient, including the flight crew who worked on the flight, are placed in quarantine after being excluded from duties.”
The flight attendant worked on a flight from Incheon to Los Angeles and may have spent time in Los Angeles before boarding a return flight. The same person also had recently worked on an Incheon-Tel Aviv route.
Los Angeles County health officials said they are aware of the media reports and are awaiting confirmation from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control or for reports from surrounding hospitals.
The county health department says there have been no new cases of coronavirus reported in Los Angeles County. If the Korean Air case is confirmed and they can trace where the person visited locally, they will make that information public.
Korean Air, which has been hit hard financially by the spread of coronavirus, has listed detailed steps it has taken to protect passengers and employees from possible exposure to the virus known as COVID-19.
On its website, the airline states: “Korean Air flight attendants are recommended to wear masks and plastic gloves on all routes, and the airline is loading each flight with adequate equipment in preparation for any possible infection onboard: masks for passengers seated near suspicious patients and hazmat suits for flight attendants who may need to take care of onboard patients.”
“Additionally, masks and hand sanitizers are prepared at airports and sales offices where employees provide face-to-face services. The airline will also provide sanitary items such as masks and hand sanitizers to domestic and global offices, including China, that are facing a huge mask shortage.”
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control reported this week an increase in coronavirus cases. At least one U.S. soldier stationed in South Korea has also been diagnosed.
South Korea now has 1,146 confirmed infections of the virus and 11 fatalities from the COVID-19 illness it causes. The national government has been channeling medical personnel, protective suits and other supplies to Daegu, and there are concerns the local hospitals are being overwhelmed and fatigued doctors are becoming vulnerable to infections.
China, by far, still has the most cases and deaths from the illness, though its numbers have slowed recently. Chinese officials Wednesday reported another 406 cases and 52 additional deaths, all of them in hard-hit Hubei province and all but 10 in the epicenter of the city of Wuhan.
China has recorded 2,715 deaths from COVID-19 and 78,064 confirmed cases of the virus on the mainland since the illness emerged in December.
China has put Wuhan and nearby cities under virtual quarantine for weeks, halting nearly all movement except for disease prevention, health care and supplying necessities. It has sent thousands of personnel to build and staff virus-dedicated hospitals in the epicenter region. In the capital Beijing and throughout the country, public events were canceled and factories, offices and schools closed.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Stay with Your Content for the latest updates. Have a story or news tip? Contact our 24/7 newsroom at 833.336.8013 or e-mail our tip line: [email protected]