How to travel during an outbreak of coronavirus without risk to health

With the spread of the coronavirus, some governments have restricted the movement of different modes of transport. But where there is no quarantine, travelers have to take their own precautions, writes the BBC.

Как путешествовать во время эпидемии коронавируса без риска для здоровья

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Here are some tips on how to safely fly, ride trains and use public transport during an outbreak.

Trains and buses

How does Covid-19, while not completely known. But it seems that the viruses enter the body through airborne droplets from the cough or sneeze of an infected person and through objects that relate to the patient.

We believe that the coronavirus is probably not kept in the air just like the flu, so the infection occurs through close contact of people.

The British national health service defines “close contact” as a stay-at a distance of 2 meters from an infected person for more than 15 minutes.

Thus the risk of infection in trains and buses depends on how much they are overcrowded and will be different in different regions and on different routes.

In the London underground with a high density of passengers can be infected with respiratory diseases.

The research of Dr. Lara Goss from the Institute of the world health have shown a link between the use of metro and increase in flu-like symptoms.

“More SARS sick passengers forced to change from one line to another than those who commute to the destination in one trip,” — said the expert.

However, if you go to a relatively empty train or bus, the risk will be less. It is also important what is the ventilation in the vehicle and how much time you spend in it.

Housekeeping also plays a role. The British railway company Network Rail has stated that, if necessary, will introduce additional specialized cleaning of stations and trains.

Gosse advises, “to avoid the peak hours if possible”, and choose routes with the minimum number of stopovers.

Now the British government does not forbid people to use public transport.

David Nabarro, special Advisor to the world health organization (who) coronavirus told the BBC that although transport is, of course, is a place of crowds, “quick contacts” between the passengers are still “the main source of transmission of the virus”.


It is widely believed that the plane due to poor ventilation risk of infection is higher. In fact, the air in an airplane is of better quality than in most offices and almost certainly better than the bus.

Although the density of passengers per square meter in the plane is higher, the air is cleaned intensively.

Researchers studying air quality in various vehicles, estimated that the air in the plane is completely replaced every 2-3 minutes, and for example, in air-conditioned house — every 10-12 minutes.

The air in airplanes clean high efficiency particulate air filter that traps much smaller particles than conventional air conditioners.

This filter draws fresh air from outside and mixes it with purified air in the cabin. Thus, at any moment, half of the air in an airplane is fresh and half recycled. Whereas in most conventional air conditioning system for energy saving in the air — recycled.

In addition to the airborne path, the coronavirus can be transmitted through the surface, for example, the palm of an infected person or the door handle.

Vicki Herzberg from Emory University in 2018 took samples from surfaces for 10 transcontinental flights and found that they were all “the same as in your living room”.

However, to accurately calculate the risks for any kind of transport is quite difficult, because there are so many other factors. For example, on long flights, the more passengers moving in the cabin, and if they have the virus, the risk of dissemination is higher.

According to the who guidelines, the high risk zone is two rows in front, behind or next to an infected person. But during the outbreak of Sars in 2003 the plane was infected passenger, 45% of those who got sick, was sitting far from him.

Recommendations remain the same — wash your hands, clean the surface, where it may sneeze and cough into a tissue.

The main problem with air travel is that they travel of potential carriers of the virus from one part of the world to another.

Cruise ships

Cruise ships attracted attention after the Feb liner Diamond Princess placed in quarantine off the coast of Japan.

The second cruise ship — Grand Princess was arrested in California. Analysis of the coronavirus has made dozens of its 3,500 passengers.

On cruise ships a lot more people in a confined space. And they are there much longer than on the plane.

Conditioning system cruise ships also mix outside air with inside, but they do not filter particles of a size less than 5000 nanometers, explain the experts.

During the outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 in 2003, the infectious particles had a diameter of 120 nanometers and can move freely through the air conditioning system on the ship.

This can be avoided if we refuse to recycle and to use only outside air.


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