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Flying during coronavirus: Study finds COVID-19 risk highest in economy window seats

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The spread of COVID-19 led to a lockdown in places all around the world. People were asked not to step out of their houses, let alone travel to other cities within the country, or outside it. However, even as the world continues to fight the coronavirus pandemic, places have now opened up to facilitate regular everyday activities, and boost the economy. One major sector that took the biggest hit due to the pandemic was airlines, and even as it tries to cope, people are apprehensive about taking a flight to and fro from somewhere, unless it is otherwise very necessary.

People who are travelling, as well as all airlines are taking all measures to ensure the safety of the travellers. Regular temperature checks, hand sanitizing, proper respiratory hygiene, wearing a mask, gloves, face shield, etc are some of the measures being taken. The risk of contraction of the virus, however, still remains. 

Risk of COVID-19 contraction maximum in economy window seats – Study 

According to a Bloomberg report, the spread of COVID-19 on a Qantas Airways Ltd. Flight in March has shown that people in the window seats, in the middle of the economy cabin, had the highest risk of contracting the virus, according to a genome sequencing analysis of infected passengers. At least 8, and probably as many as 11 passengers reported caught COVID-19, during the five-hour flight that flew from Sydney to Perth on March 19, scientists wrote in the report published in Emerging Infectious Diseases Journal. 

Eleven people on the plane were infectious. A total of 243 passengers were on board. The 11 infectious people were evenly split between the middle and the rear of the cabin. However, all 11 secondary infections caused were found to be in the middle of the aircraft’s economy class. Seven of these people were in window seats, which is a shocking finding given that people have assumed that these seats will be the least risky when it comes to the virus contraction. 

Airlines have however contracted the view and said that chances of carriers on an aircraft are less, especially because aeroplanes are fitted with hospital-grade filters. 

Most passengers who contracted COVID-19 were sitting within two rows of infected travellers. Only one of them was placed six rows away and still got the virus. 

While there is no denying the fact that the risk persists no matter how many precautions are put in place, it is important to follow all guidelines listed by various health agencies to avoid the spread of the virus.

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