Health Editor’s Note: Is air travel safe? What are your chances of getting COVID-19 while being on an airplane? This study offers an example of one airline trip to Ireland. Seven hour flight to Ireland, only one-sixth capacity, everyone wearing masks and the end result was 13 infected passengers which resulted in a total of 59 cases after visits to family and friends.
With everyone wearing a mask, and with one-sixth passenger capacity…..that would seem safe enough because there would have been space for physical distancing. This did not work because at least 13 were infected on the flight and the extra numbers came from those 13 spreading the virus to others.
For me, no air travel……Carol
A large national outbreak of COVID-19 linked to air travel, Ireland, summer 2020
Air travel has accelerated the global pandemic, contributing to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) throughout the world. We describe an outbreak that demonstrates in-flight transmission, providing further evidence to add to the small number of published studies in this area. This study depicts the nature of transmission on board, despite implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions. We demonstrate widespread in-country transmission as a result of imported infection and give recommendations to reduce the risk of importation, and to curtail onwards spread.
Fifty-nine laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19 from six of the eight different health regions (Regions A–H) throughout the Republic of Ireland were linked to an international flight into Ireland in summer 2020 (Figure 1). An outbreak case was defined as positive PCR for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) (naso-pharyngeal swab) in either a passenger or a contact of a passenger. Thirteen cases were passengers on the same flight to Ireland, each having transferred via a large international airport, flying into Europe from three different continents (Groups 1 and 2; Group 3 and Group 4).