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New Research Points To Low Risk For COVID-19 Transmission Inflight: International Air Transport Association

According to the IATA, of the 1.2 billion travellers, only 44 cases of COVID-19 have potentially contracted the coronavirus during a flight journey

New Research Points To Low Risk For COVID-19 Transmission Inflight: International Air Transport Association
Highlights
  • 1 in every 27 million travellers contracted COVID-19 during travel: IATA
  • IATA took note of unreported cases and assumed 90% cases were unreported
  • As per assumption, 1 in every 2.7 million travellers have got COVID-19: IAT

Geneva: The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has demonstrated the low incidence of inflight Covid-19 transmission with an updated tally of published cases. Since the start of 2020 there have been 44 cases of Covid-19 reported, in which transmission is thought to have been associated with a flight journey (inclusive of confirmed, probable and potential cases), it said. Over the same period some 1.2 billion passengers have travelled.

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“The risk of a passenger contracting Covid-19 while onboard appears very low. With only 44 identified potential cases of flight-related transmission among 1.2 billion travelers, that is one case for every 27 million travellers,” said Dr David Powell, IATA’s Medical Advisor.

We recognise that this may be an underestimate but even if 90 per cent of the cases were unreported, it would be one case for every 2.7 million travellers. We think these figures are extremely reassuring. Furthermore, the vast majority of published cases occurred before the wearing of face coverings inflight became widespread, he said.

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New insight into why the numbers are so low has come from the joint publication by Airbus, Boeing and Embraer of separate computational fluid dynamics (CFD) research conducted by each manufacturer in their aircraft.

While methodologies differed slightly, each detailed simulation confirmed that aircraft airflow systems do control the movement of particles in the cabin, limiting the spread of viruses. Data from the simulations yielded similar results.

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IATA’s Director General and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said there is no single silver-bullet measure that will enable people to live and travel safely in the age of Covid-19. But the combination of measures that are being put in place is reassuring travellers the world over that Covid-19 has not defeated their freedom to fly.

Nothing is completely risk-free. But with just 44 published cases of potential inflight Covid-19 transmission among 1.2 billion travellers, the risk of contracting the virus on board appears to be in the same category as being struck by lightning, he said.

The detailed computational fluid dynamics research of the aircraft manufacturers demonstrates that combining the aircraft’s existing design features with mask-wearing creates a low-risk environment for Covid-19 transmission, said Alexandre de Juniac.

As always, airlines, manufacturers and every entity involved in aviation will be guided by science and global best practices to keep flying safe for passengers and crew, he added.

Also Read: ‘Brain Fog’ Following COVID-19 Recovery May Indicate Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Says Study

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.) 

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene.  

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