With the return of air travel to almost normal before the Corona epidemic, a new study puts its hand on the risks of transmission of Covid-19 on flights, calling on companies to adopt specific new policies to better protect their passengers, according to the newspaper, “The Wall Street Journal.” .
And the scientists discovered a sharp increase in the potential spread during the meal service on flights when everyone raises their masks together. They also learned more about the importance of precautions while getting on and off the plane.
The study, published in the Journal of Travel Medicine this spring, modeled the dispersal of aerosols in the cabin of an airplane. It found that if all passengers wore masks throughout a 12-hour flight, the average risk of infection could be reduced by 73 percent using high-efficiency masks and 32 percent for low-efficiency masks.
The problem comes if everyone removes their masks at the same time. The treatment proposed by the researchers for the food problem, is to deliver meals in an orderly manner so that only half of the passengers eat at a time and the neighboring passengers remain masked.
But the airlines say they stick to standard meal service patterns. In this case, passengers can help protect themselves by avoiding eating while the person next to them is having their meal, unless someone they know.
The International Air Transport Association says airlines have not received clear guidance from authorities on how best to handle meal service.
An American Airlines spokeswoman told the newspaper that on long-distance domestic and international flights, meals are served in buses and premium cabins in a single service rather than multiple courses to reduce points of contact between customers and crew and speed up undisguised meal time. The company also stopped serving alcoholic beverages until January 18.
Recently published research has also shown that getting on and off an airplane poses greater transmission risks than when a plane is in the air, because people congregate and breathe close to each other, especially when their bags are loaded into overhead bins and pulled after the plane has landed.
Due to congestion concerns, some airlines in Europe are asking customers to stay in their seats until their row is called to disembark.
Also, when seated, aircraft ventilation systems, originally designed to quickly remove cigarette smoke from cabins, are very effective at moving air straight down, filtering it and mixing it with 50 percent of the outside air before returning it to the cabin.
Recent studies have found that the use of an adjustable overhead nozzle in many aircraft quickly disperses viral particles. Even if it makes you feel cold, it’s worth opening it fully and pointing it in front of your face.
United Airlines says it has asked pilots to keep aircraft ventilation systems on during boarding and disembarkation to maximize airflow. But not all airlines do the same.
It appears from medical research that business and first class are areas with lower transmission risks, because passengers are seated farther apart.