Flying During COVID-19 ERA
A recent publication on the risk of COVID-19 during flights caught my eye as safety on flights will be paramount if international air travel is to return in this COVID-19 era. The paper described well documented flights where COVID-19 was spread onboard. While many of the cases were passed to those in close proximity to the infected travellers some infections were passed to those more than 3 rows away. (For other respiratory infections spread on planes is generally confined to 2 rows from the infected person as the ventilation system is very effective.) However, the paper presents good news on the effectiveness of masks at reducing the risk on flights. On the flights with documented transmission masks were not mandated and rarely used. On the other hand, on 5 flights lasting 5 hours carrying a total of 58 infected passengers no secondary cases were identified on day 14 screening of the many other passengers. These flights are very encouraging. Although more studies are needed this information suggests that careful mask use during flights significantly reduces the risk of COVID-19 transmission. Obviously, the flight is not the only risk period of a journey and care needs to be taken every step of the way during travel.