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Omicron at Least Doubles Risk of Getting Infected on a Plane

Bloomberg: “Aircraft passengers are twice or even three times more likely to catch Covid-19 during a flight since the emergence of the omicron variant, according to the top medical adviser to the world’s airlines.  The warning comes as travelers take to the skies in their thousands for year-end holidays and family reunions, and as omicron becomes the dominant Covid strain in a matter of weeks — in the U.S. it now accounts for more than 70% of new cases.  Business class may be safer than more densely packed economy cabins, said David Powell, physician and medical adviser to the International Air Transport Association, which represents almost 300 carriers worldwide. As before, passengers should avoid face-to-face contact and surfaces that are frequently touched, and people sitting near to each other should try not to be unmasked at the same time during meals, he said. Transmission risk remains much lower than in crowded places on the ground such as shopping malls thanks to the hospital-grade air filters on modern passenger jets, a point that airlines have been keen to highlight throughout the pandemic. Rules like mask wearing also tend to be strictly enforced on planes. Powell, former chief medical officer at Air New Zealand Ltd., spoke with Bloomberg News on Tuesday about flying during the pandemic. Here’s an edited transcript…”

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