Travelling is indeed very risky due to the current pandemic surge. How can you ensure safety during one of the busiest seasons?
Guided with the WHO protocol, the airlines are doing what they can to prevent spreading the virus. Requiring masks on passengers and crew. Widening the knowledge for disinfection procedures and boarding passengers from back to front. Some are blocking middle seats to allow for social distancing.
There are issue regarding if coronavirus will make flying more expensive. Kent Gourdin, professor and director of the Global Logistics and Transportation Program at the College of Charleston said, “I don’t think so. Airlines are simply trying to put people into seats.”
Gourdin said that until the public can travel — not just fly — with confidence again, he believes fare increases are off the table.
“Business travel is still down as many firms realize virtual meetings can often yield the same benefits as those held face-to-face, at significantly lower cost,” said Gourdin. “Leisure passengers are simply not yet comfortable booking costly trips to popular destinations not knowing what they will find when they arrive.”
The goal was to ensure safety and help the passenger know that flying will be as safe as before. Right now, most people do not want to fly. Thus, higher prices would only be counterproductive.
They point to a Harvard University report out last month declaring that travel during the pandemic is no riskier than going to a grocery store. Researchers from Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health found “a relatively very low risk of acquiring SARS-CoV-2 [COVID-19] while flying,” thanks to air-filtering systems and requirements that passengers wear masks.
All of the major U.S. airlines’ planes are equipped with high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that remove at least 99.97 percent of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria and airborne particles that are 0.3 microns in size, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. And the CDC concurs on their efficacy: “Most viruses and other germs do not spread easily on flights because of how air circulates and is filtered on airplanes,” it notes in its guidance for travel during the pandemic.
But the CDC also notes that while “we don’t know if one type of travel is safer than others,” air travel can make social distancing particularly difficult.
Murphy suggests passengers “wipe the area down where you’re going to be sitting, and the armrests and the tray table — anything you touch. If there’s a touch screen or control or something, you need to clean that before you touch it.”
He adds: “If anybody around you is sick, get off the airplane.”
Masks should fit snugly around the nose, mouth, sides of the face and under the chin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The best performing masks will have two or more layers of heavyweight fabric like cotton or quilting material,” says Dr. Juanita Mora, a Chicago-based allergist and national volunteer spokesperson for the American Lung Association. She estimates that these types of masks will provide 70% to 79% of filtration of particles. Masks with four or more layers could provide 80% to 90% filtration. This means that single-layer masks, such as neck gaiters and bandanas, will likely provide the least protection.
In terms of material, one kind of fabric isn’t better than another as long as the fabric is washable and breathable. Mora recommends flannel as a good option in addition to cotton and quilting materials. The World Health Organization recommends looking for masks that have a white or light colored interior, which can help you see when the mask is dirty or wet. The WHO also recommends finding a mask in which the outermost layer is made from a hydrophobic material, such as polyester or a cotton and polyester blend, that will help repel droplets and moisture.
As you shop around, you may see some masks that have space for a filter. Should you want to add your own filter in these masks for extra protection, Mora suggests using HEPA furnace filters or HEPA vacuum cleaner bags because the HEPA filters are already designed to filter microscopic particles. You can purchase these from retailers online, such as Amazon and Home Depot.
There are a few things to avoid in a mask, according to both Mora and the CDC: First, don’t use an N95 mask. (These should be reserved for healthcare workers.) Second, don’t select a mask with a valve. Those kinds of masks protect you but not those around you since your exhalations (and their particles) escape from the valve. Additionally, masks with valves are prohibited on some airlines. Third, avoid masks made from a fabric that can shed (like the fabric used to create scarves), Mora says, as wearing one could cause you to breathe in those fibers and irritate your lungs.
The WHO also says to avoid wearing a damaged face mask (one with rips or holes) and to forgo masks that fit too loosely. Masks that are dirty, wet or have been worn by another person are not recommended either.
“while face masks protect your nose and mouth, your eyes are left unprotected; the respiratory droplets produced when someone coughs or sneezes can enter your body through the eyes.” Said, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“Coronavirus cannot penetrate the plastic,” adds Dr. David Aronoff, director of the division of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “It blocks direct inoculation of the mouth, nose and eyes.”
It’s still possible to contract COVID-19 via air that comes in around or under the shield, which is why it’s essential to also wear a mask underneath. (Plus, most airlines and trains require face masks at this time.) A face shield is not a replacement, but a supplement to your face mask—and an undeniable upgrade to your personal protection while traveling. They have the added value of preventing you from touching your face and eyes, something that becomes even more difficult when you’re in public spaces for hours at a time, be it on an airplane or out for a hike.
“To be maximally protective, combine the shield with a face mask or face covering,” says Aronoff. “Alternatively, there are some shields that have fabric attached to the bottom that likely help serve the function of a face covering.” When choosing a face shield, Aronoff says to choose a style that fits properly and has plastic that extends below your chin.
“Coronavirus is actually easy to kill,” Reynolds said. “Studies have shown that disinfecting wipes and hand sanitizers can kill bacteria and viruses that are much more difficult to kill than coronavirus.”
Best sanitizing wipes: In addition to Clorox wipes, some of the best sanitizing wipes to bring on an airplane include Purell, or a pack of Germ-X wipes with moisturizing vitamin E. CareTouch makes alcohol-free, fragrance-free wipes that are gentle enough for young children and have soothing vitamin E and aloe.
And if you just want to spray your hands (or everything), try Dr. Bonner’s lavender- or peppermint-scented organic hand sanitizer spray in TSA-friendly bottles.
More simply, just bring with you any isoprophyl alcohol (70%). This should be enough to kill the viruses.
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