Typically, airplanes have a bad reputation for containing germs and causing diseases. But there are certain ways to prevent these risks while flying. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, a new question arises that is air traveling safe for people? Are there chances to get coronavirus while air traveling or not?
There are three general rules on air traveling, as shared by many medical experts. One is never to sit too close to anyone, avoid touching surfaces unnecessary and always book a trustable company.
The new research studies air travel for the risk associated with coronavirus pandemic. As it is an extremely contagious infection, the international health agencies like WHO have requested people not to travel if it is not absolutely needed.
Ashok Srinivasan is a computer scientist from the University of West Florida. He says; “Airlines use several zones in boarding. When boarding a plane, people are blocked and forced to stand near the person putting luggage in the bin—people are very close to each other. This problem is exacerbated when many zones are used. Deplaning is much smoother and quicker—there isn’t as much time to get infected.”
Srinivasan the first author and researcher of this study investigating the pedestrian dynamics models which are used as a control strategy to reduce the risk and spread of coronavirus cases through airplanes.
The complete study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.
During all previous years, scientists have mostly used the Self-Propelled Entity Dynamics (SPED model) which uses each person as a point. However, this model is limited as its results are presented slowly and gradually, making it difficult to take rapid decisions. In such situations as coronavirus pandemic, a faster and timely decision is all that is needed. Hence this SPED model doesn’t work well during a pandemic.
The newly proposed model is called the “CALM model” that stands for constrained linear movement of individuals in a crowd. It is faster and better than the SPED model and assumed to work best in the current coronavirus pandemic.
Srinivasan and his colleagues have Frontera which is the “fastest academic supercomputer” from the Texas Advanced Computing Center and this project was completed under the support of the National Science Foundation.
Just like SPED, the new model CALM stimulates a slender movement, more of a linear path. The analysis of these two models indicated that CALM was nearly 60% faster than the previously used SPED mode. Other than just better performance, it also models additional behaviors of all pedestrians.
Srinivasan on this new model advises all that; “You may still be at risk [for a virus] even if you are farther away than six feet,” he said. “In discussion with modelers, it appears that models don’t take air-flow into account. Just as a ball goes farther if you throw it with the wind, the droplets carrying the viruses will go farther in the direction of the air-flow.”
Before this, the researchers from Singapore investigated how a vent for exhausting air caused a person using rest-room to catch coronavirus, a new type of infection transmission.
On this new CALM model design, the program director at NSF’s Office of Cyberinfrastructure, Edward Walker says that;
“The results made possible by the use of the NSF-funded Frontera supercomputer system are timely because of our urgent need to combat the spread of COVID-19.”
He further added that; “This discovery, enabled through advanced computer simulations, could potentially have a fundamental impact on how Americans experience air travel in the future.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Department of State have recommended people not to travel during the coronavirus pandemic. Anyone who is planning to travel anywhere should read Health Notices by CDC and Travel Advisories issued by the State Department.