Khanh NC, Thai PQ, Quach HL, Thi NH, Dinh PC, Duong TN, Mai LTQ, Nghia ND, Tu TA, Quang N, Quang TD, Nguyen TT, Vogt F, Anh DD. Transmission of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 During Long Flight. Emerg Infect Dis. 2020 Sep 18;26(11). doi: 10.3201/eid2611.203299. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 32946369.

To assess the role of in-flight transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), we investigated a cluster of cases among passengers on a 10-hour commercial flight. Affected persons were passengers, crew, and their close contacts. We traced 217 passengers and crew to their final destinations and interviewed, tested, and quarantined them. Among the 16 persons in whom SARS-CoV-2 infection was detected, 12 (75%) were passengers seated in business class along with the only symptomatic person (attack rate 62%). Seating proximity was strongly associated with increased infection risk (risk ratio 7.3, 95% CI 1.2-46.2). We found no strong evidence supporting alternative transmission scenarios. In-flight transmission that probably originated from 1 symptomatic passenger caused a large cluster of cases during a long flight. Guidelines for preventing SARS-CoV-2 infection among air passengers should consider individual passengers’ risk for infection, the number of passengers traveling, and flight duration.

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