A Korean Air flight attendant tested positive for the coronavirus, as people are desperately trying to cancel flights on the airline

A staff member for Korean Air.

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A staff member for Korean Air.
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Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images
  • A Korean Air flight attendant has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the South Korean airline announced on Tuesday.
  • Korean Air is disinfecting aircraft and asking flight attendants with symptoms to self-quarantine, a representative told Business Insider.
  • Korean Air’s social-media platforms have been flooded with complaints from people who say they are trying to cancel their flights to South Korea or other parts of Asia.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Korean Air flight attendant has tested positive for the novel coronavirus, the South Korean airline announced on Tuesday.

Korean Air “is creating a structure to work very closely with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Korea (CDCK) to prevent the spreading of the virus,” a representative for the airline told Business Insider.

The airline is disinfecting aircraft, asking flight attendants with symptoms to self-quarantine, and installing thermal cameras at Korean Air’s operations locations.

The confirmed case also prompted Korean Air to temporarily shutter its office near the Incheon International Airport, the main airport in the South Korean capital, Seoul, so it could be disinfected.

According to Reuters, which first reported the news, the routes and flights flown by the infected cabin-crew member were not immediately available.

The CDCK reported 60 new confirmed cases of the disease COVID-19 and one additional death in South Korea on Tuesday morning. That raised the official number of coronavirus cases in the country to 893, with eight dead.

Passengers are desperately trying to cancel Korean Air flights, but tickets to South Korea are not refundable

People are seeking refunds from Korean Air.

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People are seeking refunds from Korean Air.
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Kate Taylor/Business Insider

As of Tuesday, Korean Air’s social-media pages were flooded with comments from people attempting to cancel their flights to South Korea and other countries in Asia.

“Hi, I am trying to contact Korean Air service centre to cancel tickets to Korea,” one Facebook comment said.

“I cannot get a hold of Korean Airlines. Everytime I call there is a busy signal. … What is your policy on refund due to virus?” another aid.

“It is impossible to get connected to your service representative! I was waiting on hold forever the past 2 days,” a third said. “I have a reservation to fly to Korea in May and is very concerned about the current situation.”

As of Tuesday, Korean Air was offering refunds on tickets for flights through China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan purchased before January 28.

The airline is also offering refunds to passengers with “entry restriction regarding novel coronavirus.”

For example, if a passenger recently visited China, the person’s ticket to the US would be refunded because the US is barring entry of people who visited China in the past 14 days.

Korean Air is not currently refunding flights booked to South Korea, a representative told Business Insider.

On Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a level-three travel warning for South Korea, advising that travelers avoid all nonessential travel to the country.

In late January, Korean Air announced that it had formed an emergency-response team to deal with the spread of the coronavirus, setting up “a thorough process” to prevent infection of employees, including cabin-crew operations.

The airline also announced other precautions at the time, including strengthening the level of cabin disinfection, using disposable cutlery on routes through China, and recommending that flight attendants wear masks and plastic gloves on all routes.

South Korea has raised its national threat level to its highest level, “red alert,” which was also issued during the the H1N1 swine-flu outbreak in 2009.