Frequent nasal swabs on pilots causing nosebleeds: a flight safety issue

Subjecting pilots to frequent nasal swabs to test for COVID-19 has led to severe nosebleeds while pilots are on duty, and it may affect flight safety, according to the Civil Aviation Administration and pilot unions.

According to current epidemic prevention regulations, flight crew must be subject to three PCR tests within 14 days of entry, and it is stipulated that these must be in the form of nasopharyngeal swabs.

However, many flight crew members have reported that this method causes discomfort, and in combination with air pressure changes during flights, has resulted in frequent severe nosebleeds.

The union of EVA Air affiliated companies publicly announced recently that they hope that the testing method can be changed to throat swabs instead of nasopharyngeal swabs.

Lin Junliang, Deputy Director of the Civil Aviation Administration said that the CAA has received reports from crew members, and acknowledges the problem. The CAA has written to the Centers for Disease Control’s Central Epidemic Command Center, and the CECC is currently evaluating the information.

diagram on obtaining nasopharyngeal specimen
How to obtain a nasopharyngeal swab specimen for COVID-19: New England Journal of Medicine.

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