I have no idea why people are flying.

Courtesy of WaPo:

Health officials in New Zealand, a country that has a strict 14-day quarantine in place for arriving travelers, released a case study on Friday that details the risks of traveling on long-haul flights during the coronavirus pandemic — even if negative coronavirus tests are required before the flight.

The report details a coronavirus outbreak linked through DNA analysis to one passenger on an 18-hour flight from Dubai to New Zealand in September. The traveler, who tested negative for the coronavirus with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 48 hours of the flight, was contagious but pre-symptomatic onboard the plane, and infected at least four other passengers.

In total there were seven cases linked to the flight, which had 86 passengers onboard.

“By combining information on disease progression, travel dynamics and genomic analysis, we conclude that at least four in-flight transmission events of SARS-CoV-2 likely took place,” the study states. “Four of these six related genome sequences were from Switzerland, the country of origin of the suspected index case.”

New Zealand’s quarantine protocols make the study a unique analysis because all passengers were monitored and retested during their required 14-day quarantine lodging, which is managed by New Zealand authorities. Most flights, doctors have pointed out, have no way of monitoring passengers two weeks after their travel.

“This case speaks to how hard it is to keep infected people off a flight, even if you do PCR testing in a narrow window of time before the flight,” David Freedman, an infectious-disease specialist at the University of Alabama at Birmingham who has reviewed the report, told The Washington Post.

“The original case most likely became infectious after he took the preflight test, but in fact was not symptomatic until 71 hours after the flight,” Freedman said. PCR coronavirus tests are estimated to be about 98 percent effective at detecting the coronavirus, which is why they are required by many countries for entry.

Of the seven infected individuals, five had tested negative within 48 hours before the flight. The authors of the article say the “transmission events occurred despite reported use of masks and gloves in-flight,” and that stringent masking was required by the airline operating the flight.

The article points out that on long flights it is less likely that passengers will keep their masks on until they reach their destination. 

They get hungry, they get tired, and they get forgetful. 

I should point out that a study like this is almost unique to New Zealand due to their very strict Covid-19 protocols. 

Let’s face it in America these passengers would have disembarked, and then disappeared into the country, and if they were infectious they would be infecting people left and right. 

I guess that is why New Zealand still only has just over 2,000 cases and America just topped 12,000,000.