According to aviation experts, it is unlikely for in-flight transmission of Covid-19 when you are in an aircraft cabin. However, this is only on assumption all necessary health and safety precautions are taken before flights.
Being in an enclosed space during the coronavirus crisis might sound the illogical thing to do, but there is data to suggest that the rate of in-flight transmission is low according to Aviation medical expert Datuk Dr Mohammad Razin Kamarul-zaman.
“There’s a paradox, in terms of, you know, flying in a closed tube for certain hours. But the transmission rate is low,” he said during a special media interview.
Also the corporate head for safety oversight for Malaysia Airlines, Dr Mohammad Razin cited a study recently published by the IATA (International Air Transport Association).
Only seven potential Covid-19 positive cases were recorded from the survey of 18 airlines (14% global traffic).
Dr Mohammad Razin said “It could be most likely because passengers and crew look after themselves through travel advisories and SOP (standard operating procedures) imposed by the airlines that only allow fit and healthy passengers to fly.”
The cabin seating arrangement could be a contributing factor in a plane according to Dr Mohammad Razin.
“Everybody faces forward (in the cabin). So there is no face-to-face or prolonged face-to-face contact between one individual and another,” he said.
The air circulation in the cabin of a plane is another important factor to bear in mind. Dr Mohammad Razin explained that there is a laminar airflow inside the cabin.
Air moving in the same direction and at the same speed, with minimal cross-over of air streams or none at all is defined as Laminar airflow.
According to the doctor, the HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Arresters) aircraft filtration system further purifies the air flow inside a cabin.
“The airflow inside the cabin goes through HEPA filters and is recirculated with fresh air taken outside for every two- minute cycle,” he said.
With all that being said, passengers need to be responsible and careful as well.
“Most airlines would advise passengers in advance that if you are unwell, please do not travel,” he said, adding the importance of observing social distancing measures and usage of facemasks.
Malaysia Airlines have implemented strict measures to curb the spread of Covid-19, like most other airlines in this current time.
Temperature checks, regular cabin disinfection and cleaning, usage disposable cutlery and the availability of medical communicable kits (or modified contactless CPR) are included in the safety measures, as well as ensuring that PPE (personal protective equipment) are available on board.
Meanwhile, the call for passengers to be more responsible in helping to curb the coronavirus is supported by Riad Asmat, AirAsia Malaysia chief executive officer.
“It is your responsibility to ensure that you are eligible to travel, be it international or domestic before booking a flight,” he said.
Travellers are reminded to arrive earlier at the airport by Riad as well, to undergo the necessary safety processes three hours before departure.
“Besides following our important notices, we kindly ask that you observe the universally recommended protective precautionary measures, including practising high personal hygiene, wearing a mask and sanitising your hands regularly,” he said.
Dr Mohamad Razin’s stand that air travel is safe amid the Covid-19 pandemic was reiterated by Riad, with all the safety measures that have been implemented by airlines.
“Air travel is one of the safest modes of travel, especially with the deep cleaning, sanitising and disinfection that our aircraft and its cabin go through daily,” he said.
2nd June 2020 18:58
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