Since the airlines required its use, no propagating events have been documented on any flight
The use of masks on flights does help reduce the probability of contagion of coronavirus, according to specialists.
Researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham have been analyzing data from Hong Kong, where health authorities are meticulously testing and tracking passengers arriving in the city.
As soon as passengers arrive, a note from NPR notes, a PCR test is applied to them, and then they are accommodated in individual rooms for a 14-day quarantine. Once it is over, they are tested again. From the result, the authorities can know which passenger took the flight already infected with the virus and if it could have infected someone.
The Birmingham specialists focused their investigation on the flights of Emirates, an airline that has imposed a strict use of masks.
The team analyzed data for flights from Dubai to Hong Kong between June 16 and July 5. They found that in those three weeks, five flights registered seven or more infected passengers, for a total of 58 passengers positive for Covid-19 on these eight-hour flights.
However, according to researcher David O. Freedman, none of the 1,500 to 2,000 passengers who were exposed to these people contracted the virus.
Emirates not only requires passengers and crew to wear the masks, but flight attendants make sure they wear them as much as possible during the flight.
On another flight, which also left Dubai, 27 people boarded it already infected.
“It appears there were only two transmissions on the flight,” Freedman said, according to NPR.
The researcher considers that without the masks, the number of infections would have been higher. Even, he said, since airlines began requiring its use, scientists have not documented any super-spreading event on any flight.
“There is encouraging evidence from several flights that wearing masks does help a lot, but it would be good to study it better,” Freedman said.
“The circumstantial evidence is that the risk is low on a flight if there is a strict mask-wearing policy.”
They recommend the use of masks throughout the flight
The United States Transportation Command said Thursday that the planes have excellent ventilation and air filtration systems that remove coronavirus particles from the air every six minutes.
Given this, says engineer Linsey Marr, from Virginia Techa, the only way you can catch the virus is if you absorb the particle before it passes through the ventilation system.
“And that’s only going to happen if you’re sitting next to someone who’s sick, ” Marr said, according to NPR.
But if the person wears a mask, the risk is reduced.
Marr recommends reserving the best face masks for flights and wearing a mask or goggles to protect your eyes. Also, he says, it is important to constantly disinfect the seatback, armrests, and service table during flight.
Also, he says, avoid talking. NPR emphasizes that when a person speaks, he emits 10 times more droplets or aerosol particles than when he is silent.