Empty middle airplane seats would cut coronavirus exposure – study
Keeping middle airplane seats vacant could cut the risk of exposure to the coronavirus by 23% to 57% compared with a full flight, according to a simulation study on physical distancing onboard released on Wednesday by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The researchers based their findings on laboratory modeling of exposure to the coronavirus on single-aisle and twin-aisle aircraft.
“It is important to recognize that the current study addresses only exposure,” not actual transmission resulting in infections, and it did not consider the impact of masking, the researchers said.
U.S. airlines blocked middle seats early in the pandemic but have gradually opened them up, citing studies showing low transmission risk if everyone onboard wears a mask.
The authors of the new study, however, say earlier research found “masking seems to not eliminate all airborne exposures to infectious droplets and aerosols and support the importance of multicomponent prevention strategies.”
Combining the effects of masking and distancing by means of empty middle seats would be more protective than either by itself, the researchers said.
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