Press Release & Industry News
A Hotel with a plan for coronavirus
For many of us visiting hotels, whether it is for a holiday or business, we usually expect a place to relax. Chatting to the friendly staff at check-in, or relaxing in the hotel lobby while someone takes care the luggage, surfing the TV channels before heading out to explore your surrounds, hotels aren’t places you want to stress about.
But with the potential of a coronavirus outbreak in Myanmar, a country with one of the least developed medical systems in Asia, the thought of a coughing guest at the check-in counter might take the edge off the hotel fun somewhat.
Lotte Yangon, located beside the scenic Inya Lake, has implemented a world-class prevention system to ensure that any possible outbreaks are minimised, putting guest safety and comfort at the top of their agenda.
Arriving at the luxury hotel I was greeted with staff wearing disposable masks and gloves. They were friendly, and explained the body temperature monitoring system to me, as I walked through the lobby.
It was a reassuring site, to know that they had been trained — not only in the use of the technology, but that they also wore the protective clothing properly.
Such practices are sadly not widespread in Yangon. Venues such as airports instruct staff to wear masks, but it’s common to see security guards fumbling with them, touching their faces and handling bags and clothing without gloves. Not so at the LOTTE Hotel, where staff have a better understanding of the transmission process.
Respiratory particles containing the virus can transmit the infection when a person touches their mouth, nose or eyes. The staff at LOTTE are not only briefed on this kind of medical advice, but are also placing announcements to explain the transmission process to customers, conveniently printed in Burmese, English, Korean and Chinese.
The English version reads: “For our guest’s health precautions, we have installed a thermo imaging camera to measure all guests’ temperature. If the temperature is above 37.5 C (99.5 F), hotel access may be restricted.” The announcement also mentions proper medical care, as the hotel will advise treatment at a nearby hospital. 37.5 C is the considered a low-grade fever, and may indicate signs of the coronavirus.
Some entrances to the hotel are closed for safety reasons too, to prevent possible spread of the disease in the event of an outbreak.
“Those guests with a high temperature will be requested to stay in a restricted area, and our staff will contact the Ministry of Health should we suspect a case of the coronavirus,” a spokesperson at the hotel said.
“All of our hotel staff need to wear the masks at all times, as well as gloves if they are checking or carrying guests’ belongings. They also need to wash their hands, especially if they handle the doors or equipment. The cleaners will clean the floors on an hourly basis, and the gym every two hours,” he added.
Should an outbreak occur, the hotel is also prepared with their own in-house doctor and medical equipment. Training on the coronavirus for staff started in early January, when news of early outbreaks outside of China were reported.
The coronavirus, which now has the official name of the “2019 Novel Coronavirus” (or “COVID-19” for short), is a virus from the corona family of viruses — given that it takes the shape of a crown. It was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, with an early rapid infection rate of between 38 and 95 percent in early January 2020.
As of Wednesday 12 February, number of global infections is around 45,000. With the total number of fatalities reaching over 1,000, a figure surpassing the number of fatalities from the 2002-03 SARS virus, the World Health Organization (WHO) recently classified the outbreak as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC), further adding it was concerned about the spread of the virus in countries with less developed healthcare infrastructure.
A number of cases have been suspected in Myanmar, though tests so far have only returned negative results. On January 31 a Chinese national traveling from Guangzhou to Yangon was suspected of carrying the virus, after being detected with a high fever and flu symptoms at the airport. He also returned a negative test result.
Though fatality rates (estimated at around 2 to 3 percent) might be lower than that of the SARS outbreak (which was around 10 percent), the coronavirus has a much higher rate of transmission — meaning it’s much more infectious. Current data, however, may underestimate the severity of the illness, as milder cases go undocumented and fatalities lag behind the number of reported cases.
LOTTE is global hotel chain, and is prepared in its protocols for dealing with an international health threat such as the Coronavirus. Their policies align with the WHO’s recommendations for prevention of the virus, and include “regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing.”
“The coronavirus threat level is higher now across the world. Though it hasn’t been confirmed in Myanmar, we have to take care of our guests and customers. Our guests’ safety is our top priority. For their safety, we will do as much as we can at LOTTE Hotel,” a spokesperson at the hotel said.
As a guest at the hotel, who has always enjoyed the services and atmosphere, it’s reassuring to know that LOTTE is prepared for whatever the coronavirus may throw at Myanmar.
As data on global infection rates are still being collated, and information about the virus assessed on a daily basis, I can be assured that my stay at LOTTE will be as comfortable, and safe, as anywhere else.