Travel plans amid Omicron scare? Here's how you can safe fly

FPJ Web DeskUpdated: Thursday, December 23, 2021, 02:02 PM IST
article-image
Representative image |

As the new year eve and vacation season seems to be in the air, several are worried about safe travel during the COVID-19 scare. The Omicron strain is highly transmissible and has become dominant in a matter of weeks, accounting for more than 70% of all new cases in the U.S. alone, according to reports.

David Powell, former Chief Cedical Officer at Air New Zealand Ltd., spoke with Bloomberg News on Tuesday about flying during the pandemic. Here's an excerpt of top five QnA:

What are the risks of infection during a flight?

Whatever the risk was with delta, we would have to assume the risk would be two to three times greater with omicron, just as we've seen in other environments. Whatever that low risk -- we don't know what it is -- on the airplane, it must be increased by a similar amount.

What about children on the flight? How should families manage them?

The risk of severe illness to small children themselves from traveling is low, just because the risk of severe Covid is so low for children. It's one of the unanswered questions with omicron. The risk is not so much to them. The risk is that they may be mildly infected, not know it, and potentially be spreading whilst they're traveling. And so that is a risk. Getting them to keep a mask on is hard. The smaller they are, the harder that's going to be.

What about masks at meal times?

For a two-hour flight, it's pretty easy to say, 'just keep your mask on the whole time.' But if it's a 10-hour flight, it becomes pretty unreasonable to ask people not to eat and drink. What most airlines have been doing is encouraging, but not insisting, on customers trying to stagger their mask-off periods a little bit.

In simple terms, two people masked have minimal transmission from one to the other. If one of you removes your mask, then that person's at greater risk of transmitting and at slightly greater risk of receiving. But if both of you remove then obviously, there's no barrier there and you can freely transmit one to the other.

What should passengers do to minimize the risks?

Avoid common-touch surfaces, hand hygiene wherever possible, masks, distancing, controlled-boarding procedures, try to avoid face-to-face contact with other customers, try to avoid being unmasked in flight, for meal and drink services, apart from when really necessary. The advice is the same, it's just that the relative risk has probably increased, just as the relative risk of going to the supermarket or catching a bus has increased with omicron.

Would it be safest not to fly at all?

The greatest protection you can give yourself is to be vaccinated and boosted. The protection that you give yourself from an extra mask or a different type of mask, or not flying at all, frankly, is probably less than the benefit you would get from just being fully boosted. There's a sort of a rule of thumb starting to appear, that essentially omicron loses you one vaccine dose of benefit. So, two doses against omicron is about similar protection to one dose against delta. That's not established in hard science, but it roughly seems to correlate with what's coming out in studies.

(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. To receive it on Telegram, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)

RECENT STORIES

Daily Horoscope for Saturday, August 13, 2022, for all zodiac signs by astrologer Vinayak Vishwas...

Daily Horoscope for Saturday, August 13, 2022, for all zodiac signs by astrologer Vinayak Vishwas...

Meet Mukesh Chauhan, Rajasthan resident who tattooed names of 62 martyrs of different wars

Meet Mukesh Chauhan, Rajasthan resident who tattooed names of 62 martyrs of different wars

Mumbai: Western Railway achieves new milestone, as it earns over Rs 200 Crore through scrap sales

Mumbai: Western Railway achieves new milestone, as it earns over Rs 200 Crore through scrap sales

Cops likely to record Ranveer Singh's statement by August 22

Cops likely to record Ranveer Singh's statement by August 22

50 years old father of an illegal church held for molestation in Nerul

50 years old father of an illegal church held for molestation in Nerul