Sitting in a plane fewer than four rows away from with someone who is infected with coronavirus will result in only a very minor chance of infection, according to research by the Dutch aerospace institute NLR and public health body RIVM for the transport ministry.
At between one in 160 and one in 1800 cases, the risk of catching the virus is well below that of spending time in a room of similar size without proper ventilation, minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen quoted the NLR as saying. With a super shedder the risk rises to one in 16.
The researchers looked at the spread of aerosols in the cabin using life sized dummies during taxiing and cruising and involved three different types of aircraft.
Aerosols are very small droplets produced by talking, coughing or sneezing which can remain in the air for minutes. A virus like measles depends strongly on aerosols to spread but opinion on whether this is the case for coronavirus has been divided.
The researchers suggest that despite testing requirements, there could be a person with coronavirus on board every 11 to 33 flights.
The risk of catching the virus increased the longer the flight, but was cut substantially by the use of masks, the researchers say.
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