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How safe is air travel during lockdown ?

Published Jul 5, 2020

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CAPE TOWN -Travelers are to arrive two hours prior to departure to undergo screening and will be provided with pre-packed meals which will be placed at the seats before boarding. This is to ensure safety for travellers during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The new measures follow

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Transport minister Fikile Mbalula announcement of the reopening of seven more airports with Cape Town International Airport, OR Tambo International, King Shaka International and Lanseria International Airports already operating since June.

Emma Corder, Managing Director of the industrial cleaning products shares her expert opinion on just how safe air travel is.

“The risk of cross-contamination is especially strong in adjacent rows of seating. While most people are now aware that the virus is spread through droplets in the air, many don’t realise that it can spread from a surface to a person,” said Corder.

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“The conditions in crowded spaces such as planes and buses present unique challenges of airflow and proximity so cleaning methodology and competencies are crucial, as is the use of appropriate chemicals and equipment," she said.

She added that despite modern commercial passenger jets being fitted with the same air filtration system used in hospitals that are meant to be safer, the risk of infection still remains.

It would mean airlines need to adhere to a strict hygiene protocol and employ cleaning companies that have a knowledge of eliminating the different types of viruses, and bacteria.

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“On an aeroplane seat, the tray table should be cleaned before high touchpoint surfaces like the armrest or the remote because people touch those surfaces, leaving particles on them which could cause infection,” said Corder.

“Studies suggest that UltraViolet light may be an effective solution to area cleansing in between flights, and testing is currently underway to determine whether this method presents other risks and side effects to human health.

“If airlines are to regain public confidence in the age of the Covid-19 pandemic, passengers need to have a mindset of collective responsibility and be just as vigilant about hand-washing and seat-wiping as professional cleaners are with their protocols and best-practices,” she said.

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