We’re here to guide you through the coronavirus pandemic. Sign up to the Life newsletter for daily tips, advice, how-tos and escapism.
As fellow Brits pile on planes headed for tropical destinations, many of you will be wondering whether you, too, should book a last-minute summer getaway.
One of the things that might be holding you back – in addition to the prospect of quarantine on return – is getting on a plane. Being contained on an airtight vessel with strangers (and their germs) for hours doesn’t sound like the most ‘Covid secure’ environment.
Historically, studies have found planes can be breeding grounds for infectious diseases – add into the mix the prospect of a potentially airborne illness and it doesn’t fill a person with hope. So, is the air safe on a plane?
Professor Qingyan Chen, an expert in mechanical engineering at Purdue University, tells HuffPost UK while coronavirus could be airborne – and therefore may spread through air conditioning systems – “the virus concentration in air is very low”. But if you’re exposed to a low virus concentration in the air for a long time, there’s a higher risk of becoming infected.
Generally it’s believed the filters used on aircrafts, called high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, do a good job of filtering out particles the size of Covid-19.
“The interesting thing is there haven’t been documented cases of transmission on airlines,” says Professor David Hunter, an expert in epidemiology in the Nuffield Department of Population Health at University of Oxford. “My guess is that’s probably because most of the airlines... have been flying mostly empty.”
While flying isn’t without its risks, Prof Hunter says right now, the destination is likely to be more risky anyway. “If someone’s travelling, depending...