As millions of people prepare to fly home for Christmas an industry expert has warned the Omicron variant doubles your risk of being infected on a plane.
Passengers are twice or even three times more likely to catch Covid-19 while flying since the emergence of Omicron according to a top medical adviser to airlines. Sitting in business class rather than the tightly packed economy section can reduce your chance of catching Covid-19 David Powell of the International Air Transport Association told Bloomberg.
“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,” Powell said yesterday in comments to Bloomberg.
“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,” Powell continued.
Powell said that aircraft passengers were likely at higher risk while in airports than on planes because terminal buildings are less controlled environments than the inside of a plane. “The requirements for airflows on board are much more stringent than they are for airport buildings generally,” he explained.
“The protections for the airline cabin are: everybody stays seated, facing the same direction, there are these physical barriers that are in the way, you have a high degree of airflow that’s by and large from ceiling to floor, minimal drift along the airplane, a little bit more drift across the airplane,” Powell added.
While the UK government is holding off on introducing a lockdown, at least for now, around 30 countries have entry rules for travellers from Britain which effectively bar entry. France banned non-essential travel from the UK while Germany imposed a two week quarantine as Omicron continues to spread like wildfire with Britain yesterday reporting more than 90,000 new cases.