Wearing masks on planes reduces the risk of Covid spreading, study confirms
Many travelers regret having to wear a mask for an entire flight, but it does reduce the chances of Covid spreading, a study has confirmed.
Chinese experts simulated how moisture droplets spread through the cabin of two passenger flights using two real-life examples of exposure to the virus on aircraft.
One was a nearly 12-hour flight from London Heathrow to Hanoi in March 2020, where passengers were largely mask-free, and the other was a five-and-a-half-hour flight from Singapore to Hangzhou in January 2020, where masks were worn.
Researchers tested how far the droplets could be spread by coughing, talking and breathing.
They then used a computer model and predicted who became infected with an overall accuracy of more than 80 percent compared to the real word flight.
The team, from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, calculated that if all passengers had used surgical masks on the flight from London to Hanoi, the number of people infected with Covid would have been reduced from 12 to just one.
On the flight from Singapore to Hangzhou, however, an investigation found that a passenger, who later contracted the virus, took off his mask to have a conversation, something the authors of the new study said “would have contributed greatly.” to his infection.
While mask mandates have come and gone in the UK, they have remained mandatory for the duration of flights since air travel resumed.
However, some have questioned their effectiveness as passengers are packed so closely together and removed from the board to eat and drink.
But study author Professor Dayi Lai said the latest research confirmed that masks make a “significant difference.”
A study simulated the transmission of Covid virus droplets emitted by infected passengers on two real word flights involving Covid transmission, one from London to Hanoi, and another from Singapore to Hangzhou, and compared their findings with whom really got infected. The red marking indicates the Covid-positive passenger, orange the infected travelers and yellow those who have been spared the infection. The purple marker indicates a passenger for whom there was no data
The study found that wearing masks during a flight reduced the chances of spreading Covid to others, as well as reducing conversations
Risk of catching Covid is THREE times higher in the plane than other variants due to a more contagious Omicron strain
Airline passengers are up to three times more likely to get Covid since the emergence of the Omicron variant, a top medical adviser warned today.
David Powell, physician and medical adviser to the International Air Transport Association, said the variant increased the risk of being infected with the virus “just as we’ve seen in other environments.”
He also warned that those in economy class are more likely to catch Covid on a plane than those in business class because the seats are closer together.
But he said passengers would likely get more, if not more, Covid in terminal buildings compared to planes, because of “much stricter airflow regulations” for commercial jets.
His comments come as millions of people prepare to fly home to their families for Christmas, while winter sunbathers take off on vacation.
Speak with Bloomberg NewsMr. Powell said, “Whatever the risk was with Delta, we would have to assume that the risk would be two to three times greater with Omicron, just as we’ve seen in other environments.
dr. Lai said: “We are very pleased to see that our model, validated by experimental data, can achieve such high accuracy in predicting COVID-19 transmission in aircraft cabins.”
“It’s also important to know that wearing masks has a significant impact on reducing transmission.”
The study was published in the journal indoor air.
Researchers created a computer model that simulated how far droplets produced by passengers breathing, coughing and talking on the plane would travel.
They used data from research on the influenza virus to determine how ‘contagious’ each of these droplets was. due to a lack of ‘detailed data’ on the viral load of droplets emitted by Covid patients.
After running their computer model, they compared their findings with a study of the London Heathrow to Hanoi flight, which found that one passenger had spread Covid to 12 others.
The program was able to predict 11 of the 12 infected people and five of the seven nearby passengers who had not contracted Covid.
This gave the computer model an overall accuracy of 84.2 percent.
On the flight from Singapore to Hangzhou, the team tested the impact of wearing masks and reducing passenger conversations about the dispersion of droplets and found both greatly reduced potential exposure.
An investigation found that only one passenger, a man, had become infected with Covid on the flight.
The team’s simulation showed that coughing and breathing alone would not have resulted in enough droplets to infect the man, so a conversation between infected passengers nearby was likely to lead to him contracting Covid.
They also said that according to the investigation details, the man took off his mask to have a conversation with his wife and son, something that greatly increased his chance of infection.
Reducing all passenger-to-passenger conversations would be an effective way to reduce the risk of exposure, the team concluded.
The research team attributed the overall low infection rate during Singapore to the use of Hangzhou flight masks.
They added that their model also showed that if the infected passenger had worn a mask on the flight from London to Hanoi, only two people would have been infected because the mask caught most of the droplets.
If all passengers had worn masks, only one person would have become infected, the researchers said.