Woman may have caught coronavirus in airplane toilet, researchers say

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The 28-year-old was among some 300 South Koreans evacuated from Italy at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in Milan last March, the researchers wrote in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal of the states Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. -United.

“On the flight from Milan, Italy, to South Korea, she wore an N95 mask, except when using the restroom,” they wrote.

“The toilet was shared by passengers seated nearby, including an asymptomatic patient. She was seated three rows away from the asymptomatic patient, ”they added.

South Korean officials who organized the flight had implemented comprehensive infection control measures and tested everyone before boarding. All passengers and crew were also quarantined when they arrived in South Korea. Six passengers tested positive shortly after arriving in South Korea.

The 28-year-old woman developed symptoms eight days after returning home and hospitalization.

“Since she did not go outside and self-quarantine for three weeks alone at her home in Italy before the theft and she did not use public transport to getting to the airport, it is highly likely that his infection was transmitted during the flight via indirect contact with an asymptomatic patient, ”wrote the researchers from Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine in Seoul.

There has been very little evidence of the possibility of catching coronavirus on a flight, although many airlines have policies allowing more space for passengers, cleaning planes more frequently, and encouraging passengers to stay in their aircraft. seats and not to move around on the plane. Evidence already shows that aircraft ventilation systems clean the air quickly and thoroughly.

Chances of catching Covid-19 on a plane are slimmer than you think, say scientists

“This study was one of the first to assess asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 in an airplane. Previous studies of the in-flight transmission of other infectious respiratory diseases, such as influenza and severe acute respiratory syndrome, have found that sitting near someone with the disease is a contributing factor. major risk of transmission similar to our own findings, ”the researchers wrote.

Researchers said officials planning the theft had taken many precautions.

“When passengers arrived at Milan airport, medical staff performed physical examinations, medical interviews and body temperature checks outside the airport prior to boarding, and 11 symptomatic passengers had been removed from the flight, ”they wrote.

Passengers were given N95 respirators – masks that protect the wearer from viral infections – and were separated six feet before boarding.

German researchers reported earlier this month that two people may have been infected before, during or after a flight from Tel Aviv to Frankfurt in March.

They were seated near the back of the plane, directly across from the aisle of seven passengers who were later found to be infected.

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