The Aviation sector was one of the worst-hit during the global coronavirus pandemic; sliding down by 95% in April.
While some airlines stopped entire operations, others continued with just cargo flights, in a bid to keep business alive and make some money.
But today, many airlines have started flying again with the hope of getting back on their feet as their services are now in demand.
The situation has become complex in the UK since they introduced the controversial quarantine rules on June 8: enforcing the isolation of new arrivals in the country for 2 weeks. However, the government expects to establish several air bridges or travel corridors permitting people to travel from low-risk countries, where the quarantine rules still hold. With this, people can visit famous holiday scenes during the summer. However, how safe will be their flight, or is there any chance they’ll get infected? Get a PCR test for travel in London.
What are the quarantine rules for UK travel?
What will going on holiday be like? There isn’t sufficient data to investigate how the novel coronavirus can spread between flight passengers. However, previous studies have considered the spread of other airborne diseases.
Using information made available, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC generally attempts to monitor those sitting two rows in front and behind seriously for infected passengers.
A study conducted some time ago shows that droplet-mediated respiratory infections have lower chances of spreading beyond a metre from an infected passenger. This means that transmission is just within the front or back of an infectious passenger.
An earlier study on people infected with influenza or Sars revealed that a number of persons outside their immediate area were infected. It was believed that some of the infectious passengers didn’t breathe in infected droplets, but picked up the infections in the airport while boarding or disembarking from the flight, or from coming in contact with contaminated surfaces.
The movement of cabin crew during the flight was also considered to generate new infections as they came in contact with different passengers. Other reports seem to negate this opinion as there wasn’t any further spread of coronavirus from two infectious passengers as reported by public health officials in Canada.
It’s a popular belief that sitting in confined space for hours can spread infections, but this isn’t true. Aircrafts are designed such that the air is very clean; several times per hour, it’s entirely renewed. How?
Outside air is trapped via the aircraft engine and mixed with recycled air from the cabin. This recycled air partly reused to maintain correct temperature and humidity levels are passed through HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters just like the ones found in hospitals. The virus causing COVID-19 has a diameter of about 5 nanometers (a nanometer is a millionth of a metre); within the particle range that HEPA filters trap (10 nanometers and above).
One of the highest standards of HEPA filters are utilised on aeroplanes. 99.97% of of particulates (just like COVID-19 size) are filtered out using these filters. Besides, airflow in the cabin is designed to lower the risk of infection.
Since the air flows vertically, from above the head to beneath the feet, nothing can spread easily in the air. Hence, the transmission is on the low. However, when passengers or cabin crew move along the aisle, this air flow is breached; changing the path of any airborne particles.
HEPA filters are effective, but they don’t trap all coronavirus droplets or aerosols before you might breathe them in. Filtration is enhanced by mass airflows. The greater risk is in close range face-to-face talks on a plane; most of the transmission happens during this time.
There is an opinion that the duration COVID-19 stays in the air varies between people and the state of infection. Not all the droplets will fall to the ground within 2 metres; some smaller droplets which could be carrying the virus can remain airborne.
To this effect, the use of face masks becomes important, and coughing or sneezing into an elbow will lower risks.
While some senior aircraft officials believe that social distancing onboard can help, others are of the opinion that it doesn’t reduce risk and isn’t necessary. The main focus should be on deep cleaning cabin, reducing clustering of passengers in specific areas, including banning queues for bathrooms.
Borrowing a cue from the recommendations of the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) on guidelines to lower infection risks for airlines and airports, the UK government has released its own guidelines as follows:
- All luggages should be checked in
- Flight passengers should wear face mask onboard and in the airport
- There should be minimised face-to-face contact with staff
- Passengers onboard should not move around, rather remain seated as much as possible
- Flight crew should establish systems to prevent passengers from queueing or congregating around washrooms
There’s no single measure that can prevent infection, but the risks can be lowered with precautionary measures, including having a PCR test for travel.
So, if you board a plane, use your face covering always. It may not protect you 100% but at least you have some form of protection.
Maintain social distance as much as possible in places prone to large crowds, particularly the airports. You never can tell who’s infected. So, stay alert, stay safe always and adhere to health and safety guidelines. You can contact Blood London today on 020 71830244 fo your PCR test before embarking on any trip.