Written By @cabbagepatchgrl
In March, a 27-year-old woman boarded her flight from London to Hanoi, Vietnam, despite her symptoms of Covid-19.
According to a study published Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the individual spread Covid-19 to 15 others aboard the flight.
Researchers say the woman was from Vietnam, and she had symptoms of a sore throat and cough prior to the flight; they also claim this was the source of the outbreak.
There were twelve passengers in business class, two in economy, and one crew member who were all infected after the March 1 flight.
When she arrived in Vietnam, her symptoms had progressed, and four days later, she tested positive for Covid-19.
Contact tracing was conducted for all 217 people aboard the Vietnam flight by March 10. According to the study, people on the flight had traveled to 15 provinces in Vietnam. There was no” strong evidence” to support potential exposure to others outside of the flight.
The study’s author wrote, “The risk for on-board transmission of SARS-CoV-2 during long flights is real and has the potential to cause Covid-19 clusters of substantial size.” The study also said, “Our findings call for tightened screening and infection prevention measures by public health authorities, regulators, and the airline.”
Health officials say at the time of the Vietnam flight arrival, passengers and crew members were not required to wear a mask at the airport or on the flight.
All passengers coming from Covid-19 infected areas, including the UK, had to be screened by thermal imaging. But according to the study, they weren’t sure if the woman was flagged for her symptoms. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
The Washington Post reported that the CDC found nearly 11,000 people have been exposed to the coronavirus on flights since March. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
In its public health guidance, the CDC says that viruses are not easily spread on planes because of its filtration system. They do mention that sitting within six feet of others and touching surfaces on long hour flights can increase your risk of catching the virus.
The authors of the Vietname flight study recommend wearing masks, routine hand washing, getting tested, and quarantine policies for passengers coming from countries of high risk.
“As long as Covid-19 presents a global pandemic threat in the absence of a good point-of-care-test, better on-board infection prevention measures and arrival screening procedures are needed to make flying safe,” they say.