New CDC study offers strongest evidence yet that COVID-19 can spread on airplanes


  • A study published by the CDC found that asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 can spread the coronavirus to vols.
  • The study found that on a flight with 290 passengers, one passenger caught the novel coronavirus of one of the six asymptomatic carriers on the flight.
  • The researchers said the study shows the use of a mask on board is crucial in preventing the spread of the virus, as are hand hygiene, surface disinfection and efforts to limit contact while on board. embarkation and disembarkation.

A new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found evidence that asymptomatic carriers can transmit the novel coronavirus to others by air,

The study, published in the CDC’s peer-reviewed journal Emerging Infections Diseases, was conducted by Korean researchers led by Dr. Sung Hwan Bae and was based on an evacuation flight from Milan to Seoul at the end of the month. Of March.

Before boarding, medical staff examined the 310 people who were to fly; 11 people with symptoms did not board the plane. Each passenger was given an N95 mask, and staff followed strict infection control procedures at the airport and in the air, under the supervision of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When the flight landed, the 299 passengers were quarantined by the government for two weeks and regularly tested for COVID-19[feminine[feminine.Publicity

Six passengers, who were asymptomatic, tested positive at the start of quarantine. At the end of the quarantine, a passenger who had tested negative after the flight, tested positive.

This passenger was seated three rows in front of the asymptomatic carriers and had worn her N95 throughout the flight, except for eating and using the toilet. Asymptomatic carriers used the same toilet during the flight.

The study found that a passenger on board was likely infected with six asymptomatic carriers who were also on the flight.CDC

Eighteen crew members and Korea CDC staff were also quarantined. All tested negative throughout the study.Publicity

Due to strict infection control and post-flight quarantine, researchers concluded that the newly infected patient likely picked up the virus during the trip. A second flight validation study found the same result, with three asymptomatic patients likely infecting another passenger.
What is less clear is how exactly the virus was transmitted. High-efficiency particulate filters on airplanes, which remove microbes from recirculating air on board planes, make air transmission difficult between seated passengers, the researchers said. This probably contributed to the fact that only one passenger was infected; The fact that every passenger wears an N95 respirator probably also helped. This makes this transmission likely resulting from contact with a contaminated surface, or when boarding, disembarking, or walking the aisles.Publicity

“More attention is warranted to reduce the transmission of COVID-19 on airplanes,” the researchers wrote. “Our results suggest that strict global regulations for preventing the transmission of COVID-19 on airplanes can prevent public health emergencies. “

Airlines companies have developed a variety of methods to mitigate the risk of transmitting COVID-19 on flights, trying to build public confidence and encourage people to fly back on the plane.

All major US airlines require passengers to wear masks on board. Some, including Delta, are blocking the middle seats in order to facilitate social distancing. All of them have implemented new cleaning and disinfection schemes.Publicity

However, the study suggests there is room for improvement, especially as asymptomatic passengers may contaminate surfaces during flights, or may not cooperate with mask requirements.

The researchers offered three suggestions to mitigate the risks: “First, masks should be worn during the flight. Second, because contact with contaminated surfaces increases the risk of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 among passengers, hand hygiene is necessary to prevent infections. Third, physical distance must be maintained before boarding and after disembarking the aircraft. ”


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