The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced new data suggests coronavirus can be spread on airplanes by asymptomatic passengers.
According to the CDC’s official website, researchers examined evidence of in-flight transmission of COVID-19 by asymptomatic patients on an evacuation flight from Milan, Italy, to South Korea in late March.
The flight crew followed strict infection control after 11 people were denied entry after showing coronavirus symptoms. All of the remaining passengers wore N95 respirator masks, except while eating and using the restroom.
Upon landing, every traveler and crew member on board was quarantined for two weeks at a government facility. While six passengers were found to have coronavirus early in the process, one woman tested positive on the final day of quarantine.
The report suggests the woman’s infection was likely transmitted by in-flight contact, as she sat three rows behind the asymptomatic passenger at the root of the spread. The agency also studied a second evacuation flight and found almost identical data.
The authors of the study said while it remained unclear exactly how the virus was transmitted, the asymptomatic traveler may have played a “critical role” in the spread of COVID-19 on the test flights.
To keep travelers safe, the CDC recommends using facial coverings throughout the journey, washing hands frequently, wiping down surfaces with disinfectant and maintaining proper social distance guidelines to prevent infections.
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