COVID-19: Hong Kong’s airport takes a page from Superman

HKIA sets up ‘disinfectant booths’ to super clean staff to protect them from COVID-19.

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The CLeanTech disinfectant booth on trial at Hong Kong International Airport. (PHOTO: HKIA)

Like Superman of old, who stepped into a phone booth when he needed to ditch his disguise, Hong Kong International Airport (HKIA) has developed a disinfectant booth that its staff step into after having their temperatures checked for a dousing of special chemicals to protect them from the COVID-19 coronavirus. Currently in trial use, Hong Kong’s Airport Authority said it is also using the latest disinfection technologies, including disinfection channels, antimicrobial coating and autonomous cleaning robots.

HKIA is said to be the world’s first airport where “CLeanTech”, a full-body disinfection channel facility, is in trial use. Staff members using the facility will have a temperature check before entering an enclosed channel for the 40-second disinfection and sanitising procedures. The interior surface of the channel is equipped with antimicrobial coating which can remotely kill virus and bacteria on human bodies and clothing by using the technologies of photocatalyst and “nano needles”. Sanitising spray is also applied for instant disinfection. The channel is kept under negative pressure to prevent cross-contamination between the outside and inside environment. Currently, the facility is designated for use by staff who take part in public health and quarantine duties at the airport in relation to arriving passengers.

The city’s Airport Authority also said it was conducting a pilot test of applying antimicrobial coating on all passenger facilities. An invisible coating to destroy germs, bacteria and viruses is applied to high-touch surfaces in the terminal, including handles and seats of Automated People Movers and passenger buses, smart check-in kiosks and check-in counters, toilets, seating area in the terminal, baggage trolleys, elevator buttons, and more. After completion of the trial in May, the authority will consider implementing it as a long-term disinfection measure.

Intelligent Sterilisation Robot, equipped with ultra violet light steriliser and air steriliser, is deployed round-the-clock in public toilets and key operating areas in the terminal building. (PHOTO: HKIA)

Autonomous cleaning robots are also deployed to ensure thorough disinfection of public areas and passenger facilities in HKIA. Intelligent Sterilisation Robot, equipped with ultra violet light steriliser and air steriliser, is deployed round-the-clock in public toilets and key operating areas in the terminal building. The robot can move around autonomously and sterilise up to 99.99 percent of bacteria in its vicinity, including both the air and object surfaces, in just 10 minutes.

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Matthew Driskill is the Editor of Asian Aviation and is based in Cambodia. He has been an Asia-based journalist and content producer since 1990 for outlets including Reuters and the International Herald Tribune/New York Times and is a former president of the Foreign Correspondents Club of Hong Kong. He frequently appears on international broadcast outlets like CNN, Al Jazeera and the BBC and has taught journalism at Hong Kong University and the American University of Paris. Driskill has received awards from the Associated Press for Investigative Reporting and Business Writing and in 1989 was named the John J. McCloy Fellow by the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in New York where he earned his Master's Degree.

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