The Coronavirus is one of those extraordinary events that have shaken the world and also in Italy this event has generated concern. Many of you have written asking how to protect oneself from the risk of contagion both on the plane and in airports.
I have made a brief research and I inform you of a few things with regards to this matter.
I did not find a solution that can guarantee a 100% defense against the virus but there are precautions that can help reduce the risk of contagion.
The hepa filters found on the airline
Lets start with the air that you breathe on the plane. We can begin by saying that the air is purified every 2/4 minutes with filters that remove nearly 99% of contaminated elements from the air, including bacterial agents.
This process is obtained thanks to HEPA filters (High Efficiency Particulate Air Filters). These filters are utilized in particular for liquids or gas. They are made from microfiber membranes separated by layers of aluminium. They have the capacity of blocking particular solids present in the air and their efficiency places them in the category of absolute filters, meaning filters of high efficiency that reach up to 99% of purification.
With these filters and thanks to the fact that the air recirculation takes place between 15 to 30 times per hour (every 2/4 minutes), the air in the cabin of the aircraft results purer than in many offices or public places.
PERCENTAGE OF CLEAN AIR VS RECirCULATED AIR
At every cycle of air purification, around 50% escapes from the aircraft and is replaced by fresh air, while the remaining 50% is filtered by HEPA filters.
In addition to this the temperature in the aircraft is kept low because many types of bacteria are killed at low temperatures and this helps to reduce the risk of bacteria in the aircraft.
RISK OF CORONAVIRUS BY CONTACT
As far as we know contagion is by contact or by air and this means that if you are within a few meters from the infected person and this person sneezes or coughs the risk level of contagion is very high.
Been that the plane is a relatively small and confined, people are very close to each other, the risk is that the infected person can infect the passengers sitting 2-3 rows away.
Studies made by professor Howie Weiss, a biologist and mathematician from the Pennsylvania university, together with Boeing, demonstrated that the people being infected are those sitting a meter from the infected person and that the risk for persons sitting further away is minor.
We must consider though, that people move around and it would only take the infected person on the way to the bathroom, sneezing a couple of times to infect others sitting more than a meter away from the sick individual.
Further to this if the infected person sneezes putting his hand over his face then opening the bathroom door the next person going to the bathroom will touch the
same door handle, then in this case the risk level of contagion is very high.
The solution in this case is to wash your hands as often as possible or use wet wipes (if it is not possible to wash your hands in a bathroom).
HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF FROM THE CORONAVIRUS IN AIRPORTS
In part, I have already answered and that is by washing ones hands often and avoid staying near anyone that has respiratory problems, helps reduce the risk….but it does not eliminate it, but these measures are helpful.
There are however other precautions that can be taken in airports.
As a reader of my blog pointed out, people use in turn the trays at security checkpoints in which they place jackets, watches, belts and other objects. It would help if the trays were disinfected after use by each person with a disinfectant spray.
What worries me is flying from one airport to another, dragging the bacteria around also to minor airports, where one would think it’s not possible to get infected.
In other words, flying from a regional airport to a Hub where there are passengers from all over the world with connecting flights to regional airports, can be a risk factor, clearly in any Hub there are passengers arriving also from Asia.
The risk of been infected exists and we must try to protect ourselves, without turning it into a psychosis. Small measures taken as previously written and the clean air in the aircraft, purer than the air in any office, helps to reduce concern about what is happening.
My advice is wash your hands often when travelling, even if the coronavirus didn’t exist, would in any case be an important habit to adopt.