Laboratory modelling of SARS-CoV-2 exposure reduction through physically distanced seating in aircraft cabins using bacteriophage aerosol – November 2020

April 23, 2021

Watts L Dietrich, James S Bennett, Byron W Jones, Mohammad H Hosni

MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep

Aircrafts can increase an individual’s risk for exposure to SARS-CoV-2. Using a bacteriophage MS2 virus, the study assessed the exposure of SARS-CoV-2 for an aircraft with a single aisle (with two sections) and for an aircraft with a twin-aisle (with 3 sections). Findings showed that with physical distancing through keeping a middle seat unused, exposure was reduced by 23% in the single aisle scenario (one passenger sitting in the same row as another passenger but 2 seats away) compared to a full aircraft. There was also a 57% reduction in exposure in a twin-aisle scenario (different patterns of seating but always keeping the middle seat empty) compared to a full aircraft. When looking at relative exposure for one infectious passenger, exposure was reduced by 35%-36.4%. For two and three infectious passengers, relative exposure was reduced by 35.1%-38.2% and 35.9%-39.4%, respectively. The results of this study indicate that risk of exposure can be reduced by implementing physical distancing in aircrafts.

Dietrich WL, Bennett JS, Jones BW, Hosni MH. Laboratory Modeling of SARS-CoV-2 Exposure Reduction Through Physically Distanced Seating in Aircraft Cabins Using Bacteriophage Aerosol - November 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2021 Apr 23;70(16):595-599. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm7016e1. PMID: 33886531.

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