Antimicrobial surface coating said to show promise for ships, hotels

A room is treated with Act. Global’s Act CleanCoat, a coating that is then activated with sunlight or artificial light.

As concern about the Covid-19 coronavirus grows, a promising new antimicrobial surface coating is being marketed to hospitality and transportation companies.

Its maker, Act. Global, founded in 2013, offers a proprietary Premium Purity system that involves the application of Act CleanCoat, a transparent, odourless coating that the company says decomposes microbes, including bacteria, viruses, mould spores and volatile organic compounds.

Richard Tubb, a retired U.S. Air Force brigadier general and former White House physician is now an informal advisor to Act. Global.

“We had SARS in 2002, MERS-CoV in 2012 and now the coronavirus almost 10 years later,” Tubb said. “These types of things come and go, but they will never fully go away. What we need is a containment approach to allow us the luxury of turning our attention to the discovery of treatment and prevention, while also restoring people’s confidence in a way that will get them to engage with the economy.”

Hotels in a number of countries and the cruise line Lindblad Expeditions are among the early adopters of Denmark-based Act.Global’s product.

The coating’s key ingredient is titanium dioxide, a non-toxic, naturally occurring compound often used in paints, sunscreen and toothpaste, among other products.

The company claims that once exposed to sunlight or artificial light, a photocatalytic reaction activates the coating, producing a continuous surface- and air-purification cycle.

According to Act.Global, the coating has undergone extensive testing and has been approved by several independent laboratories, including Dr Brill and Dr Steinman Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology in Germany, ISI Food Protection in Denmark and Chang Gung University on Taiwan.

An Act ECA Generator produces an eco-friendly cleaning agent called Act ECA Water.

While still relatively new, the company is marketing its Premium Purity system to a variety of commercial and industrial venues, including hotels. To date, the company has launched the system in a dozen hotels throughout Denmark, Germany, India and Thailand.

Christopher Luscher, the company’s chief technology officer, said, “Act. Global is founded on the premise of sustainable disinfection, and what we have seen in the hospitality sector is that we’ve been able to convert the method of cleaning so it’s less like a firefighter coming in and trying to fight a fire and more like the installation of fire-resistant materials.”

In the hotel setting, the company’s CleanCoat can be applied on almost any fixed surface, hard or soft, though Luscher said his rule of thumb is that “if the Mona Lisa is hanging on the wall, it’s best to take it down.” After the coating is applied, it takes two hours to set.

How it works

Post-application cleanliness is maintained with the use of an eco-friendly and affordable cleaning agent called Act ECA (for electrochemically activated) water. The water is produced using an Act ECA Generator, which is installed on-site and requires just two ingredients: water and salt.

Coating costs vary greatly by region and venue. Act. Global sells Premium Purity with a three-year service contract.

Hotels aren’t the only settings in which an antimicrobial coating offers a promising solution. In the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Luscher reported that the company is seeing a surge in demand from airports and restaurants as well as from airlines, railways and cruise ships.

Among the first cruise lines to adopt Premium Purity is Lindblad Expeditions, which deployed the system aboard its National Geographic Explorer ship in mid-2018.

Bruce Tschampel, Lindblad’s vice president for hotel operations, said, “We’re very careful about the environment, and we were looking for options for a green cleaning method that used fewer chemicals and plastic. Also, with cruise lines, we have to be absolutely clean and sanitary because you’re in this small environment, and someone could bring on a cold, and it’s easily passed around.”

The results made a compelling case for the product.

Following the National Geographic Explorer’s trial run, Tschampel said, the company “reduced guest-reported illness by 50%, eliminated over 1,000 plastic bottles of cleaning products and reduced water usage by 1.1 million gallons per year.”

Lindblad has since announced plans to adopt Premium Purity across its entire fleet, coating all of its eight ships, including all public areas and guest and crew cabins. The process is set to be completed by early March. Lindblad’s newest ship, the Endurance, will also be using the system when it debuts next month.

“There is a choreography that has to be managed, whether you’re a hotel or a ship,” Tschampel said. “How do you get all these areas coated, and when is the right time to do it? But so far, we’re extremely pleased, and there are so many benefits. The results have been even better than we expected.”

Coronavirus: Slump in-demand set to cost airlines almost $30bn

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A slump in demand due to the coronavirus outbreak is set to cost the global airline industry $29.3 billion in lost revenue this year.

The bulk of the revenue loss – $27.8 billion – will hit carriers in the Asia-Pacific region, as Iata warned that 2020 would be a “very tough” year for the sector.

An estimated $12.8 billion will be lost in the Chinese domestic market alone with those outside the region expected to lose $1.5 billion in revenue, the airline trade body calculated.

The total forecast drop in demand of 4.7% would wipe out expected growth this year, resulting in a 0.6% contraction in passenger demand for the year.

This would represent the first overall fall in demand in more than a decade.

The estimated impact of coronavirus assumes that the centre of the public health emergency remains in China.

If it spreads more widely to Asia-Pacific markets then impacts on airlines from other regions would be larger, according to Iata.

The estimates are based on a scenario where coronavirus has a similar impact on demand as was experienced during the SARS outbreak in 2003.

“That was characterised by a six-month period with a sharp decline followed by an equally quick recovery,” Iata said.

“It is premature to estimate what this revenue loss will mean for global profitability. We don’t yet know exactly how the outbreak will develop and whether it will follow the same profile as SARS or not.

“Governments will use fiscal and monetary policy to try to offset the adverse economic impacts. Some relief may be seen in lower fuel prices for some airlines, depending on how fuel costs have been hedged.”

Iata director general and chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said: “These are challenging times for the global air transport industry. Stopping the spread of the virus is the top priority.

“Airlines are following the guidance of the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other public health authorities to keep passengers safe, the world connected, and the virus contained.

“The sharp downturn in demand as a result of COVID-19 (coronavirus) will have a financial impact on airlines – severe for those particularly exposed to the China market.

“We estimate that global traffic will be reduced by 4.7% by the virus, which could more than offset the growth we previously forecast and cause the first overall decline in demand since the global financial crisis of 2008-09. And that scenario would translate into lost passenger revenues of $29.3 billion.

“Airlines are making difficult decisions to cut capacity and in some cases routes. Lower fuel costs will help offset some of the lost revenue. This will be a very tough year for airlines.”

De Juniac called on governments to provide support. He said: “We have learned a lot from previous outbreaks, and that is reflected in the International Health Regulations (IHR). Governments need to follow these consistently.”

He added: “Airlines and governments are in this together. We have a public health emergency and we must try everything to keep it from becoming an economic crisis.”

Iata medical advisor Dr David Powell advised: “If you are sick, don’t travel.

“If you have flu-like symptoms, wear a mask and see a doctor. And when you travel wash your hands frequently and don’t touch your face.

“Observing these simple measures should keep flying safely for all.”

Coronavirus: Cruise lines cancel and change itineraries amid mounting travel restrictions

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Quantum of the Seas

Cruise lines have responded to a wave of travel and entry restrictions from countries across southeast Asia by cancelling and changing itineraries amid the coronavirus outbreak. Harry Kemble rounds up all the latest developments.

Royal Caribbean International has cancelled two Quantum of the Seas sailings departing from Singapore on February 15 and February 24.

Affected passengers have been given full refunds, the line said.

A Royal spokesperson added: “Royal Caribbean’s number one priority is ensuring the health and welfare of our guests and crew.

“We will continue to monitor conditions and will share other itinerary adjustments should they become necessary.

“The Singapore market remains of great importance to us and we look forward to returning there very soon.”

Royal Caribbean Cruises has lifted its ban on passport holders from China, Hong Kong and Macau after adopting the controversial policy last week.

A statement from Royal Caribbean Cruises, parent of Royal Caribbean, Celebrity Cruises, Azamara and Silversea confirmed the reversal on Tuesday.

Every passenger who has travelled from, to or through mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau 15 days prior to the departure date is still banned from boarding any of Royal’s vessels.

Norwegian Cruise Line has pulled its entire Asia programme for the newly refurbished ship, Norwegian Spirit.

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Norwegian Spirit with its new hull design.

All sailings between 15 and December 7 have been dropped and full refunds are being offered, along with 10% future cruise credit.

The line also said it would cover up to $300 per person for any air change fees.

“While it is always our intention to maintain original itineraries, at times, unforeseen circumstances require us to make modifications,” the line said. “We appreciate our guests’ patience during this time.”

Celebrity Cruises has cancelled Celebrity Millennium’s sailing departing from Hong Kong on February 15 and altered two Celebrity Constellation itineraries to avoid Singapore and Thailand.

Constellation will spend more time in Cochin, Goa and Mumbai, instead of calling into Phuket, Thailand.

Cunard ship Queen Mary 2 is to miss several ports in southeast Asia and will sail direct to Fremantle, Australia, during its world cruise.

The vessel had been scheduled to call into Phuket, Thailand; Pulau Penang Island and Klang in Malaysia; Singapore; and Hong Kong.

Cunard said the “various travel and entry restrictions…are increasingly impacting ship itineraries and connecting travel” across the world.

Holland America Line (HAL) ship Westerdam was stopped from docking in Laem Chabang, Thailand, a day after the ship had been diverted from Japan.

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Holland American cruise ship Westerdam who got turned away from Thailand yesterday (Tuesday)

On Tuesday, HAL said: “We are actively working on this matter and will provide an update when we are able.”

Princess Cruises on Wednesday confirmed a further 39 passengers onboard Diamond Princess tested positive for coronavirus. The total has now risen to 174 confirmed cases out of 3,700 passengers and crew on board.

The ship is the largest centre of cases outside China.

P&O Cruises is removing calls into Shanghai on March 5-6 and Hong Kong on March 9-10 as part of Arcadia’s world cruise and will announce alternative ports “as soon as possible”.

The UK line said: “We are very closely monitoring and assessing the impact of the latest developments and health advisories, as well as various travel and entry restrictions which are increasingly impacting ship itineraries and connecting travel.

“We are actively seeking to mitigate these risks to our guests and crew, and are making appropriate adjustments to our operations to protect all onboard our ships.”