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Coronavirus on an airplane: how high is the risk of getting infected while traveling

In airplanes, large numbers of passengers travel in close proximity for several hours. So how risky is it to fly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic? Are you increasing your chances of contracting COVID-19 by traveling by plane? Express.

Photo: Shutterstock

In recent days, a lot has been written about people infected with coronavirus on flights. Last week, 16 people tested positive for coronavirus on a TUI flight to Cardiff, Wales from the Greek island of Zante. Eight more infected were found on a Wizz Air flight from Crete to London. So how dangerous is it to travel by plane at the moment?

Experts are reassuring that flying is not as dangerous as many think.

“Overall, in my opinion, flying is not as dangerous as most people think,” said Dr. Amesh Adala, senior fellow at Johns Hopkins University's Center for Health Security in Baltimore and a spokesman for the American Society of Infectious Diseases. - People often think of airplanes as the main vectors for the transmission of the virus. But we did not see much data on infection on airplanes, except for those who were in the immediate vicinity of the infected. We have not heard of serious outbreaks of disease on airplanes. ”

The planes are now equipped with highly efficient ventilation systems.

“Hepa (High Efficiency Particulate Air Filters) filters are effective at trapping more than 99,9 percent of airborne microbes,” the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said. "The air supply is essentially sterile and free of particles."

On the subject: 10 things you didn’t know about safety in airplanes

David Nabarro, World Health Organization (WHO) Special Envoy for COVID-19, explained that air travel is actually "relatively safe" thanks to this powerful ventilation.

“The good thing about planes is that the ventilation system includes really powerful filters, which means they're relatively safer,” he said.

Here, many may think that the same air is not processed or pumped through the plane throughout the entire flight.

But the modern system provides 50% fresh air and 50% filtered recirculated air to the cockpit.

Moreover, most airlines strongly require the wearing of face masks, while some keep the middle seat vacant or restrict the number of passengers on board.

On the subject: 7 ways to avoid flying on a crowded plane during a pandemic

Carriers have implemented stricter clearance and stricter temperature checks on passengers to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.

Fortunately, there are ways passengers can reduce their risk of illness. Hand washing remains the best.

You should wash your hands for about 20 seconds. If you do not have immediate access to soap and water, use an alcohol-based hand gel, if available.

Practice social distancing as much as possible. If you have a choice of seating, experts recommend choosing a window seat. This is a safer option because it limits your contact with other passengers as compared to the aisle seat.

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