You can now get coronavirus this way, says two new studies

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For representational use [Image:]
For representational use [Image:]

New Delhi : We have been taking all sorts of precautions wearing masks, social distancing, washing hands, using hand sanitizer to keep yourself safe from this coronavirus. But now two studies suggest that you can easily get coronavirus if you do this.

It now appears that boarding a plane might still be dangerous: Two new studies have proven that it's possible for you to get coronavirus on flights.

Both studies were published in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, and examined the spread of COVID between passengers on long-haul trips. One studied a 15-hour flight from Boston to Hong Kong in March in which two passengers and two flight attendants tested positive.

The other analyzed a 10-hour flight in March from London to Hanoi, Vietnam, on which 16 passengers aboard tested positive for COVID after arriving, with 12 of the cases having sat within two rows of one symptomatic person in business class. The authors of the study concluded that "seating proximity was strongly associated with increased infection risk."

But even though some airlines have instituted in-air distancing measures to space out passengers, the authors of the London flight study point out that those measures may still not be sufficient to keep travelers safe, says a report in BestLife.

"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," they write. 

The CDC and other health experts have long noted that most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air is circulated and filtered on airplanes. "The air quality on a commercial airliner is actually quite high, with the air volume in the cabin being completely refreshed every two to four minutes," Kim Schive of MIT Medical explains. "Air flows into the cabin vertically—it enters from overhead vents and is sent downward in a circular motion, exiting at floor level. Once air leaves the cabin, about half is dumped outside, and the rest is sent through HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, similar to those used in hospitals, before being mixed with fresh outside air and entering the cabin again."

"Air travel requires spending time in security lines and airport terminals, which can bring you in close contact with other people and frequently touched surfaces." However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within six feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19."