A single passenger infected 15 others with COVID-19 on a 10-hour trip from London to Vietnam, a new study published by the Center for Centers for Disease Control has shown.
The report shows how the unidentified woman, 27, unknowingly spread the virus back in March. It shows how the female traveler, who had a sore throat prior to flying, infected 12 passengers in business class, two in economy and a crew member out of the 217 on board.
'She was seated in business class and continued to experience the sore throat and cough throughout the flight', the report in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases states. Days later the 27-year-old businesswoman tested positive for coronavirus.
In the coming days, the number of U.S. deaths is set to hit 200,000, according to the official tally, though the real number is certainly higher. The virus has infected more than 6.7 million Americans. Nearly 11,000 people have been exposed to the virus on planes, The Washington Post reports.
The report adds: 'The most likely route of transmission during the flight is aerosol or droplet transmission from case 1, particularly for persons seated in business class.
'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.'
A single passenger infected 15 others with COVID-19 on a 10-hour trip from London to Vietnam, a new study published by the Center for Centers for Disease Control has shown. An airline staff member wears surgical mask inside an airplane at the Hong Kong International Airport, stock image
Melaku Gebermariam uses an electrostatic sprayer to disinfect the inside of a Delta Airplane between flights on July 22, at the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Arlington
Official guidance on the CDC website states: '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.
'Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes.
'However, social distancing is difficult on crowded flights, and sitting within 6 feet of others, sometimes for hours, may increase your risk of getting COVID-19.'
But researchers from Vietnam’s National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology argue: 'Although the international flight industry has judged the risk for in-flight transmission to be very low, long flights in particular have become a matter of increasing concern as many countries have started lifting flight restrictions despite ongoing SARS-CoV-2 transmission.'
A second study also looked into a cluster of four people on one flight from from Boston to Hong Kong on March, Forbes reports.