Is the Coronavirus transmission risk less on flights? Here is what does the studies suggest

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Published: May 25, 2020 4:01 PM

The risk is expected to be low on airplanes except in some cases if any healthy passenger is sitting near to the infected one.

Big relief for air traveler! government orders Airline to give full refund to passenger booked ticket during first phase of lockdown for travel up to May 3 amid covid19 outbreakPeople sitting in aisle seats are possible to face a higher risk than other seats.

As India resumes its domestic flight operations, a big question of Coronavirus transmission risk on flights lingers in front. How does one know if the risk of being infected with Coronavirus is limited while travelling through flights? The risk is expected to be low on airplanes except in some cases if any healthy passenger is sitting near to the infected one, the IE reported. Citing two studies which were done before Coronavirus pandemic (but talks about the rate of transmission of viral disease), the report has tried to highlight the infection risk.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has earlier stated that since Coronavirus is transmitted via droplets, anyone healthy who is sitting in close proximity with the infected individual is susceptible of getting infected. And some highly contagious conditions can spread quickly if the ventilation system is not working properly. It can be noted that ventilation in an aircraft can provide a change of total air 20-30 times in an hour. Airplane manufacturers including Boeing and Airbus have ensured safety in terms of ventilation systems, the report said.

Citing the study done by researchers at Emory University and Georgia Tech in 2018, the report asserted that the calculated risk of viral transmission varies but mostly it is small. The sample studied by the researchers reveals that only 11 seats around the infected person were at high risk where the risk for other passengers beyond it was less than 3 per cent. WHO has asked to maintain a distance of 1 metre between two people in order to curb the Coronavirus transmission. However, the IE report mentioned in terms of Coronavirus, it is difficult to quantify these probabilities.

Another study by researchers from three institutions in Florida has indicated that better boarding practises is essential for maintaining some distance between people and avoiding any kind of disease transmission. It was noted that business class possessed lesser risk than economy class on plane. Some other interesting findings of the study showed that some seats are at higher risk depending on the positioning and air flow. Therefore, people sitting in aisle seats are possible to face a higher risk than other seats.

Meanwhile in India, people with Coronavirus-like symptoms or those in containment zones will not be allowed to board the flights. Only asymptomatic passengers after clearing the screening test will board the flight in a manner that ensures social distancing measures. Even the contact with other objects and the staff on the flight will be reduced as there will be no magazines, papers or food served within the flight.

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