What are the chances of catching covid-19 on a plane trip?

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Although it is not recommended, during the pandemic, to travel by plane, a scientist at the University of Leicester argues that the chance of being infected in such environments is relatively low. Julian Tang explains that everything depends on the conditions of the place, but, “in general, airplanes are probably safer than poorly ventilated pubs.”

Moving in this way in case of symptoms, however, is out of the question, adds Tang. In addition, if possible, you should always opt for your own vehicle, which minimizes the risk of getting infected. Furthermore, everything is a matter of probability.

Traveling in South Korea, where only one in about 225,000 individuals tests positive every day, is much safer than traveling in the United States, where one in 6,500 people is infected, the researcher exemplifies. As for the chances of contamination, there are no consolidated statistics.

Lang comments on a study describing a 5-hour flight from Singapore to China in January, where 11 of the 325 people were infected by a single man. It is not yet known how this happened. On the other hand, when an infected couple flew from China to Canada in the same month, none of the other 350 passengers on the 15-hour trip were affected. In this case, everyone wore masks.

Assumptions only

According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), when four airlines followed 1,100 passengers confirmed to be infected after flights, only one possible transmission case was identified. Although there are no details about the survey, Tang explains that it may actually make sense. “Airplane ventilation systems are very effective in reducing the overall concentration of any airborne pathogens exhaled by passengers.”

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In addition, the main problem, says the researcher, is the interactions that occur between passengers. Finally, Arnold Barnett of MIT estimated that when flying in the United States, the risk of infection is about 1 in 4,000 if the flight is full. If the middle seats are left empty, the risk drops to 1 in 8,000.

All of these, of course, are only guesses, but one thing, apparently, is certain: not traveling reduces, much, any chance of getting covid-19.


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