Flights: How risky is flying in a plane amid coronavirus? Experts reveal truth

Flights linked to coronavirus have hit the headlines in recent days. Last week at least 16 people tested positive for the virus on a TUI flight into Cardiff from the Greek island of Zante while a further eight tested positive on a Wizz Air flight from Crete into London Luton. So how dangerous is it to travel by plane at the moment?

Reassuringly, experts have said that flying is not as hazardous as many may think.

“In general, I think that flying is not as risky as most people perceive it to be,” Dr Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security in Baltimore and a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, told US site TODAY.

“People often think of planes as major vectors for transmission, but overall, we have not seen much data on transmission on a plane, except for people that are in the immediate vicinity of that person…

“We’ve not heard about major outbreaks on airplanes.”

Highly effective ventilation systems are in place on planes now.

“Hepa (high-efficiency particulate air) filters are effective at capturing greater than 99.9 percent of the airborne microbes in the filtered air,” the International Air Transport Association (IATA) stated.

“Air supply is essentially sterile and particle-free.”

David Nabarro, a World Health Organisation (WHO) special envoy for Covid-19, explained that aircraft travel is in fact “relatively safe” thanks to this powerful ventilation.

“The one good thing about aeroplanes is that the ventilation system includes really powerful filters which mean that in our view they are relatively safer,” he told BBC News.

Despite what many people may think, the same air is not recycled and pumped through the aircraft throughout the flight.

The modern system sees 50 percent fresh air and 50 percent filtered, recirculated air delivered to a plane cabin.

What’s more, most airlines are vigorously enforcing the wearing of face masks while some leave the middle seat open or limit the number of passengers onboard.

Carriers have also implemented more cleaning and more rigorous passenger temperature checks all of which will help to limit the spread of coronavirus.

“You don’t get sick on airplanes any more than anywhere else,” Joseph Allen, an assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, wrote in The Washington Post.

“The required aircraft systems do a really good job of controlling airborne bacteria and viruses.”

Luckily there are ways passengers can reduce the chances of getting ill themselves.

Washing hands remains the best way to fight coronavirus.

You should wash your hands for the amount of time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday” twice (around 20 seconds).

If you do not have immediate access to soap and water then use alcohol-based hand gel if available.

Practice social distancing as much as you can, too.

If you have a choice regarding seating, some experts argue the window seat is a safer option.

This because it limits the contact you have with others compared to the aisle seat.

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