Flying In These Covid Times
While the air purification systems on airlines is able to cleanse the cabin air of minute virus, there is a gap between the time the cleansed air in the cabin arrives. Still, the virus is still able to circumvent the best filters but worse are the many asymptomatic persons onboard. These are the spreaders without even knowing about it.
A new study reveals how a flight of 200 passengers in a 3.5 hr. flight can be dangerous for all due to Covid-19. The Korean study shows that when everyone is screened, some asymptomatics may get through due to human error or equipment. Even when all passengers were given N95 masks. Just one asymptomatic person can spread the virus to others most likely in the restroom that is shared by many. The key to success is the crew abilities to enforce passengers to wear the mask during the flights at all times and keep social distancing, which on any aircraft is very difficult to do.
The example cited is a 3.5 hr. flight with 200 passengers. During said flight, the crew was not able to maintain control of people wearing their masks properly and at all times. Many passengers boarded with the mask but as soon as the aircraft took off, the masks came off, or not worn properly. People were chatting and using the restroom and the crew seemed to not enforce the CDC guidelines. People were switching seats and not using hand sanitizers. The crew tried to enforce the mask regulations and those feeling ill did relocate to the front of the plane.
The end result was that tracers found that 16 people aboard the plane had tested positive, when before they were negative. All 200 passengers were quarantined at home for 14 days, so the count still may rise.
The study faulted the crew for not enforcing the CDC guidelines during the flight, which is difficult. The restrooms were not cleaned as frequently as required and in such a tight spot, the virus can linger in the air and with a mask off, likely to infect you. Of course, using hand sanitizers help but they were not readily available.
Enforcement is a real issue, what can the crew do if passengers do not comply while in the air? Isolate them? What if they refuse?
So, if you need to fly, be prepared to face a similar situation depending on the airline.