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Year : 2020  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 29-32

Air travel in COVID-19 pandemic

1 NIMS Hospital, Jaipur, Rajasthan; Infecion Control Consultant Shroff Eye Hospital, Delhi, India
2 NDMC Medical College and Hindu Rao Hospital, Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Vandana Saini
NDMC Medical College and Associated Hindu Rao Hospital Delhi
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jpsic.jpsic_12_20

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To limit the spread of coronavirus, most of the countries had applied lockdown, restricting movement of people, ban on public transport and air travel. The World Health Organization (WHO) advises against the application of travel or trade restrictions in countries experiencing COVID-19 outbreaks for a longer period of time. These lockdowns should be short in duration and be regularly reviewed as the situation evolves. After lockdown, most of the countries have started airline services again, but society in general is sceptical about safety of air travel and the spread of disease in the present COVID time. Aircraft appears to be airtight chamber with passengers sitting very close to each other, so people get worried about getting infection from fellow travellers. Unfortunately, most of the regulations are on chemical contaminants in the flight cabin but are silent on bacteriological, viral and other microbial contamination of air in the cabin. Still, it has been observed that the risk of infection in flight is comparable to train and car and might be much lesser. To maintain air quality, airplanes have High-Efficiency Particulate Air filters which can capture 99.9% of particles (bacteria, fungi and larger viruses or virus clumps) of 0.1–0.3 μm in diameter. Low concentrations of bacteria and fungi have been found in air cabin at levels that are not thought to pose any health risk. Air is replaced with fresh air every 2–4 min in the aircraft. Besides that, ventilation systems on planes are set up in zones; air is shared between a small group of people only. Although the risk of catching something, airborne on a plane is lower than in many other confined spaces because of the filters and air exchange ratio but risk of infection through contact is still possible, so if a person fly observe contact precautions, for example, hand hygiene and use face cover.

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