Coronavirus: What are the Chances One Gets Infected in a Plane?

Planes are usually clean and disinfected, but it’s always better to take precautionsPlanes are usually clean and disinfected, but it’s always better to take precautions(Photo: Altered by FIT)

We are in the middle of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.

The novel coronavirus has spread to nearly 23 countries and infected over 10,000 people.

One of the concerns people have is, what happens if they are stuck in an aircraft with an infected person? How likely are they to get an infection?

Well, here’s what science says:

According to a study conducted by researchers from Emory University and the Georgia Institute of Technology, an infectious passenger with influenza or any other droplet-transmitted respiratory infection (coronavirus is also a respiratory infection transmitted through droplets), is not likely to transmit the infection to people more than one row away.

This graphic also tells us that the window seat is perhaps the safest of all.

Here’s what WHO says about catching infectious diseases in an aircraft.

The quality of aircraft cabin air is carefully controlled. Ventilation rates provide a total change of air 20–30 times per hour. Most modern aircraft have recirculation systems, which recycle up to 50% of cabin air. The recirculated air is usually passed through HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, of the type used in hospital operating theatres and intensive care units, which trap dust particles, bacteria, fungi and viruses.


Here’s how you can avoid your chances of infection:

  • Go for the window seat.
  • Try and avoid the aisle seat, as there’s more chances of an infected person walking past you.
  • Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer to cleanse your hands or wash your hands with soap and water.

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