As the coronavirus pandemic rages on, transportation officials around the world have been looking for ways to keep passengers and crew safe on board planes.
On November 25, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) released new guidelines for the country’s airline industry, which it oversees.
The document, titled Technical Guidelines for Epidemic Prevention and Control for Airlines, Sixth Edition, contains advice about the best hygiene practices to carry out on aircraft and in airports.
But one of those suggestions — that personnel like flight attendants wear disposable diapers so they don’t need to use the bathroom — has raised some eyebrows.
A section on PPE advises cabin crew on flights to and from high-risk countries to wear “medical masks, double-layer disposable medical gloves, goggles, disposable hats, disposable protective clothing, and disposable shoe covers.”
The next sentence reads: “It is recommended that cabin crew members wear disposable diapers and avoid using the lavatories barring special circumstances to avoid infection risks.”
While such advice may seem dramatic, it’s no secret that lavatories can be the germiest place on an airplane. In August, a woman traveling from Italy to South Korea contracted coronavirus during her trip, and a visit to the bathroom — the only place where she didn’t wear an N95 mask — was named as the possible source of her infection.
Airplane bathroom design was already a hot topic before COVID-19, but the pandemic has focused efforts to come up with new solutions.
Japanese airline ANA announced earlier this year that it was testing out a prototype of a new hands-free lavatory door. Meanwhile, Boeing successfully applied for a patent on a “self-cleaning lavatory” that would use UV light to clean 99.9% of bathroom germs after every use.