Study unveils how coronavirus spreads on planes and it’s bad news for air travel

A new study into how coronavirus spreads on planes could mean bad news for travellers.

The research, published by the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), analysed a single 10-hour flight from March.

Flight VN54 from London to Hanoi on March 2 carried 217 passengers, 16 of whom were diagnosed with Covid-19 afterwards.

A 27-year-old Vietnamese woman sitting in business class is believed to have been the source of the outbreak, meaning a single "super spreader" was able to transmit SARS-CoV-2 throughout the plane.

Reports say 12 other business class passengers are known to have contracted the virus during the flight.

  • Daily Star's newsletter brings you the biggest and best stories – sign up today

The study found that "seating proximity was strongly associated with increased infection risk", despite passengers being more spaced out than those in economy class.

Researchers have come to the alarming conclusion that the current social distancing practice of keeping middle seats empty on flights "seems to be insufficient to prevent superspreading events".

"We conclude that the risk for on-board transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during long flights is real and has the potential to cause Covid-19 clusters of substantial size, even in business class-like settings with spacious seating arrangements well beyond the established distance used to define close contact on airplanes," the study said.

"As long as Covid-19 presents a global pandemic threat in the absence of a good point-of-care test, better on-board infection prevention measures and arrival screening procedures are needed to make flying safe."

The report recommended that "tightened screening and infection prevention measures," especially for those travelling from countries with known high coronavirus transmission, should be implemented in airports and on planes, and that mask-wearing should be made mandatory.

The travel industry has taken a massive blow during the pandemic due to the extensive restrictions around the world, with British Airways, EasyJet and Ryanair all announcing mass redundancies.

In an effort to keep business going, airlines have undertaken various hygiene measures to minimise the risk of coronavirus entering and spreading on an aircraft.

New protocols include temperature screening, more intensive cleaning and mandatory mask wearing for all passengers on board.

However the new study doesn't bode well for the efficacy of seat spacing, another common strategy being employed to ensure passengers don't get too close together.

Source: Read Full Article