7-hour flight to Ireland linked to 59 covid-19 cases, researchers say

A seven-hour international flight to Ireland this summer has been linked to 59 coronavirus cases in the country, Irish researchers said in a report.

Thirteen of the 49 passengers onboard tested positive for the novel coronavirus, even though the flight was only 17 percent full, according to the report released last week by the Irish Department of Public Health. Those 13 passengers went on to infect 46 more people throughout Ireland, the report says, which “demonstrates the potential for spread of SARS-COV-2 linked to air travel.”

Researchers did not clarify where the flight originated but said the cases and their subsequent spread show that “restriction of movement on arrival and robust contact tracing” can limit travel-linked transmissions of the coronavirus.

Masks were utilized by nine of those 13 infected passengers, with one child not wearing a mask and three passengers’ mask use “unknown,” the report noted.

Out of the 13 who tested positive on the flight, 12 were symptomatic. The 13 ranged in age from 1 to 65. Four were hospitalized, with one ending up in intensive care.

The report showed the cases on an in-flight map of the aircraft, which had a three-by-three configuration.


A diagram shows passenger seating on flight to Ireland in summer 2020. (Health Service Executive)

“Four of the flight cases were not seated next to any other positive case, had no contact in the transit lounge, wore face masks in-flight and would not be deemed close contacts under current guidance from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC),” the report states. Researchers defined “close contacts” on the flight as passengers within two seats of one another in every direction.

Symptoms began to appear in the earliest cases two days after the flight, and the latest case linked to the plane experienced symptoms 17 days after the flight. Researchers noted that the “source case is not known,” although one passenger reported that a family member that had tested positive three weeks before the flight.

“Air travel has accelerated the global pandemic, contributing to the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) throughout the world,” the study said. Researchers say the flight-linked cases show “the nature of transmission on board, despite implementation of non-pharmaceutical interventions” such as masks.

In September, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that nearly 11,000 people have been potentially exposed to the coronavirus on flights. A study released this month by the Defense Department that simulated in-flight transmission of the virus suggested that air passengers would need to be near an infectious person on a plane for 54 hours to receive a significant dose of the virus. The study has not yet been peer reviewed.

The report was published the same week that Ireland reimposed a stay-at-home order for six weeks in an effort to curb the spread of the virus. Daily new

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DVIDS – News – Aerospace Medicine Implements Return to Flight Duty Status Guidelines for Aircrew Affected by COVID-19


As much of the military works to maintain readiness in the face of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), Aerospace medicine providers are working to implement a guideline with a set of return to flight duty status protocols. The guideline describes how Service members who are in a ‘down’ flight status may safely return to an ‘up’ flight status after close contact or contracting COVID-19.

These protocols were developed in response to Navy and Marine Corps Aerospace Medicine COVID-19 cases and are promulgated to synchronize the community’s approach to medical evaluation when returning aircrew to flight duty status. The protocols within the guideline are reviewed biweekly to incorporate the most updated national guidelines and current published research.

“The return to flight duty status guideline is critical to maintaining operational readiness amongst our aircrew and return them safely to the cockpit,” said CDR Allen Hoffman, Branch Head of Aerospace Medicine Programs at the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.

These protocols provide a basic framework for our squadron flight surgeons who will also use their sound clinical judgement when comprehensively evaluating each patient. The guideline details step by step how aircrew can return to flight duty status if they are determined to have contracted the virus or had close contact with someone who has contracted COVID-19.

“There are important clinical criteria for aerospace providers to follow if aircrew contracts COVID-19. For example, it is imperative that the provider follow-up with the infected individual once they have recovered to determine if they have optimal respiratory function and returned to a the physical fitness level necessary to safely operate in the flight environment,” said CDR Hoffman.

To know whether affected aircrew are able to safely operate an aircraft, they must meet set physical standards during a series of tests, including a physical exercise tolerance test. Some of those tests help determine if there are still any remaining functionally limiting damage caused by COVID-19.

“The medical evaluation and information in the guidance will ensure our aircrew are ready to fly after contracting COVID-19. Their health and safety is our first and foremost mission in supporting the warfighter,” said CDR Hoffman.

The official guidance will be published in the Naval Aerospace Medical Institute’s, Aerospace Reference and Waiver Guide by mid-November.

Navy Medicine is a global health care network of 63,000 personnel that provide health care support to the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, their families and veterans in high operational tempo environments, at expeditionary medical facilities, medical treatment facilities, hospitals, clinics, hospital ships and research units around the world.

For more information about Navy Medicine, visit www.med.navy.mil





Date Taken: 10.20.2020
Date Posted: 10.20.2020 15:19
Story ID: 381341
Location: FALLS CHURCH, VA, US 




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