While the pandemic is still around, life is returning back to normal. Almost all businesses are re-opened and the travel warnings are slowly easing. Many airlines have resumed their functions and people are traveling to their destinations. Still, researchers are warning about the potential risks at public places especially the airplane toilets which may be a source for COVID-19 transmission.
People have to be more careful especially during using an airplane toilet, health experts say. In order to be contamination-free, it is necessary not to touch any public or communal surface unnecessary.
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It is hard to say who is carrying the virus because there are so many people with no clear symptoms. So it could be lying anywhere even on the toilet door, seat, surfaces anywhere.
While the airlines are trying best to offer a cleaner travel experience, it is still not enough and everyone has to act more responsible at the individual level.
It suggests that airplanes are one of the high-risk areas that may be involved in COVID-19 transmission among travelers. Interestingly it is proven by a research team from Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine, South Korea. This team investigated the COVID-19 transmission especially through asymptomatic carriers via shared surfaces.
They analyzed samples from 310 travelers going to Seoul from Milan, Italy when the cases were extremely high in Italy. 11 patients with clear symptoms were immediately removed and were not allowed to travel from Milan Aiport.
Before this flight, they were separated from each other and were asked to use a mask during the whole flight excluding eating/drinking and using the toilet.
The study also reveals that 299 of these travelers were then subjected to follow a self-isolation for 14 days after they arrived at South Korea. This isolation was carried out in a government-provided facility.
Among all these people, six travelers who were initially asymptomatic started to show symptoms. Even on the last day of this isolation, one woman’s test came positive. The research team suggests all of them contracted this virus during the flight.
These results were published in the medical journal of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) named “Emerging Infectious Diseases”. This woman who was reported on day 14th was wearing a face mask except when she left to use the plane toilet.
They reported that the plane toilet was a shared property among all passengers. Reportedly, this woman was sitting far away from the patients who were asymptomatic at the time of flight.
The research reports that as this woman didn’t leave for anywhere and was in a self-isolation after she landed, the only way to contract this virus was through the plane toilet. It looks like she has got this virus from using the toilet which was previously used by any asymptomatic patient.
Although the airplane companies use a HEPA filter which is highly effective for filtering pathogens including coronavirus. So the only way that this virus might have contracted through the toilet surface. Anyone who has used the toilet before this woman might have contaminated it.
Airlines are functional whether the pandemic continues or not. But it is high time to acknowledge that personal safety measures should be prioritized by everyone.