Coronavirus was first reported from Wuhan, China, on 31 December 2019. Since then, the deadly virus has spread to multiple countries, including the UK, with tens of thousands of cases reported across the globe. With health fears at a high, drastic measures are being taken to limit the spread of coronavirus.
The airline industry is just one taking many steps to effect damage control.
However, Dutch carrier KLM was left red-faced this week after attempts to combat coronavirus left passengers outraged and accusing the airline of discrimination.
A photo, rapidly going viral, surfaced following Monday’s flight from Amsterdam to Seoul’s Incheon airport in South Korea.
The image depicted a note attached to the plane toilet door written in Korean.
READ MORE: Coronavirus: Is hand sanitiser at airports and on flights enough?
Coronavirus: Drastic measures are being taken to limit the spread of coronavirus
Coronavirus: The image depicted a note attached to the plane toilet door written in Korean
The note read “lavatory for crew members only.”
The toilet message is understood to have been implemented due to coronavirus fears.
This came despite the flight being a 10-hour journey from Europe to Asia.
KLM has since been accused of discrimination against the South Korean passengers as the note was written in no other language.
The photo of the note was shared on Twitter with a post in both English and Korean
“Dear KLM… Today, you made it quite clear that you discriminate against race. Using Corona Virus as an excuse. You owe my friend and Korea a HUGE apology,” wrote Twitter user @hyunmoyang.
The post sparked the circulation of hashtag #boycott_KLM on social media.
KLM responded to the tweet saying: “We will conduct an internal investigation and will make sure the crew involved understand why the passengers are upset about what happened.”
Coronavirus: KLM has since been accused of discrimination against the South Korean passengers
Today, KLM executives publicly apologised for the incident at a news conference in Seoul.
They said they took allegations of discrimination “very seriously” and pledged to prevent it from happening again.
“This is a human mistake, and we don’t take it lightly,” said Guillaume Glass, an Air France-KLM regional general manager.
“We are deeply sorry that this was viewed as discrimination, which was absolutely not the intention of the crew.”
Glass claimed that using only Korean on the sign was down to an oversight by the crew.
A note in English was later added following complaints from fliers.
He added that it is not KLM policy to reserve lavatories for crew.
Express.co.uk has contacted KLM for comment on the incident.
For those passengers worried about catching coronavirus while travelling, there are ways to protect yourself.
Medical experts have so far recommended frequent hand-washing as the most effective way of preventing the spread of the virus.
David Powell, a physician and medical adviser to the International Air Transport Association, told Bloomberg: “Top of the list is frequent hand washing, hand sanitizing, or both.
“Avoid touching your face. If you cough or sneeze, it’s important to cover your face with a sleeve. Better yet, a tissue to be disposed of carefully, and then sanitizing the hands afterwards.
“Washing your hands and drying them is the best procedure. When that’s not easy to do, alcohol-based sanitizer is a good second-best.”