This article originally appeared on VICE Asia.
Commercial planes used in the evacuation of COVID-19 red zones are being cleaned with some of the world’s most potent disinfectants in a bid to make them safe for travel again.
A report by Bloomberg reveals that airlines such as Qantas, Korean Air, and Scoot—all of which were involved in the evacuation of the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, and the Diamond Princess “coronavirus cruise” ship that was quarantined off the coast of Japan—have been wiping down their planes with products more typically used to fight STIs and superbugs.
Qantas, which used the same Boeing 747 plane on two flights from Wuhan and one from Tokyo to Australia, confirmed that they rolled out the hospital-grade disinfectant Viraclean for what turned into a 36-hour wipe-down of the aircraft. According to the manufacturer, Whiteley Corp, Viraclean kills a range of bacteria, including herpes and Hepatitis B. The product MD-125, which was used to clean the planes Korean Air deployed for its coronavirus rescue missions, can be used to combat 142 bacteria and viruses, including HIV, measles, salmonella, and avian flu.
Both Qantas and Korean Air comprehensively sprayed and wiped down the cabins of their planes, as well as throwing out items such as pillows, blankets, seat covers, and curtains. Scoot, for their part, sprayed a mist of "industrial-grade disinfectant" throughout the cabin of their aircraft.
Other airlines are taking extra measures of their own, including disinfecting all cabin surfaces after each flight, changing headrest covers, and removing hot towels, pillows, blankets, and magazines from all flights in and out of China.
It’s hoped that in future the planes will be able to clean themselves. Sustainable disinfection company ACT.Global has already developed a spray-on film called Premium Purity, which allows a plane cabin to self-disinfect for a continuous period of 12 months. According to the Danish company’s website, “the coating is transparent, odourless, and can be applied to all types of surfaces. When the coating is exposed to light, a photocatalytic reaction starts, which decomposes microbes and purifies the air.”
Christopher Lüscher, Chief Technical Officer at ACT.Glocal, said Premium Purity has tested effective against coronavirus strains.