Numerous experts have established that the chances of catching the Covid-19 virus, or any other virus, in particular, are much lower in an aircraft compared to other locations like the home or office.
Those who have cancelled or avoided flights due to the Covid-19 outbreak might be relieved to know that cabin air has been proven to be cleaner and free from disease-causing pathogens unlike other locations such as the mall or theatre.
Deputy Director of the flight standard department under China’s Civil Aviation Administration Zhu Tao, confirmed that cabin air is changed every two to three minutes, or 20 to 30 times an hour, reported asiaone.com.
Mr Zhu added that cabin ventilation systems in aircraft function vertically instead of horizontally which effectively reduces the transmission of viruses on a plane.
Back in 2018, scientists from Atlanta’s Emory University conducted a study on the rate of transmission of droplet-mediated respiratory diseases on flights. They took over 200 environmental swabs on 10 flights and did not find any respiratory virus on any sample.
A medical advisor from the International Air Transport Association (IATA) also explained that cabin air continually passes through hospital-grade filters.
Covid-19, however, is believed to transfer mainly through droplets and does not rely on airflow. The pathogens fall within the immediate surrounding, usually an estimated one metre, of the infected source.
For this reason, the World Health Organization has defined Covid-19 “contact” with an infected passenger on a plane to be someone who had been seated within two or three rows. WHO added that the risk decreases the farther apart the infected source is from another passenger, according to a report by Today.
Prevention is still better than cure; therefore, scientists and experts have compiled ways to stay safe on a plane and revealed the strategic locations to sit with the lowest chances of catching a virus.
The first would be to avoid sitting within a two- or three-row proximity of someone who is coughing or sneezing. If a transfer of seat is not possible, ensure that the person feeling unwell is wearing a face mask.
Window seats have been studied to have the least contact with other passengers which means the lowest chances of virus contamination. However, the probability of being seated in that spot is also quite low.
Experts also encourage limiting movement around the premises and touching items on the plane as an added safety measure. It is also advised to use hand sanitizer after touching lavatory handles or overhead bins.
Airlines have been implementing heightened procedures to disinfect and prevent the spread of the virus within its aircraft. On February 21, Singapore Airlines (SIA) announced changes to its in-flight services to reduce passenger and crew contact, and have started fogging the cabin, and used stronger disinfectants on existing hygiene measures, reported CNA.