July 24, 2024

We rely on public transportation to go to school, work, and meet family and friends. Is it safe to drive these vehicles during COVID-19? Are there any differences between them?

Transportation has contributed to the spread of the coronavirus locally, regionally, and globally. Infected individuals have managed to travel despite various measures such as passenger screening, quarantine following travel, and border control. We know now that a significant number of infected people do not show any symptoms of COVID-19. They are infectious even before they display symptoms.

Has the virus been transmitted on public transport vehicles or not? Very little scientific evidence exists on the spread of infectious diseases in public transport vehicles. It isn’t easy to link a transmission with a particular journey because there are many factors involved. Scientists from around the globe are trying to unravel the complex interactions that could lead to transmission.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, a few studies have shown that transmission could have happened – or has occurred – in various public transport vehicles. These studies, however, have not proven that transmission actually happened on the car.

study of trains used risk modeling to determine the probability of transmission based on proximity to an infected person. A study followed a group that traveled by plane and used questionnaires to track events over time. Computer Simulations were used on a coach with manikins to estimate the probability of passengers coming into contact with virus-laden drops at different locations. All we know is based on modeling, probability, and risks.

Comparing the genetic sequences of two virus-infected individuals who are connected by a contact is one way to determine transmission. There are several SARS-CoV-2 variants, with each having a unique genetic sequence.

This has only been done by a single study that looked at the transmission of viruses on vehicles. A married couple, two flight attendants, and a viral RNA sequence (RNA is the genetic material for some viruses) revealed that they were all infected by the same strain. This strain was not previously found in Hong Kong and could indicate transmission on the flight. The four people may have also been infected in other parts of the US, where similar viral RNA has been consistently found.

Travel safely

In any enclosed space, taking public transport will bring you into contact with others. It would help if you considered the following factors when assessing the level of risk you may be exposed to: the number and length of passengers you will encounter, as well as the vehicle’s ventilation.

The less people you come into contact with, the lower your risk. Consider traveling during off-peak hours and try to maintain as much social distance as possible.

The duration of a journey can vary from a few seconds to several hours, depending on distance and mode of transportation. You are more likely to be infected by the virus if you travel for a long time. This is because air and surfaces can become contaminated over a longer period.

Transport vehicles are equipped with ventilation systems that have been optimized for energy efficiency and passenger comfort. Except for aircraft, there is very little regulation on the amount of fresh air that passengers can breathe.

Aircraft ventilation is highly regulated, and it’s the most advanced of all. It’s only surpassed by operating theatres and cleanrooms. A recent study conducted by the US Department of Defense revealed that the combination of the cabin air ventilation system and the use of masks meant that passengers were exposed to a very low level of particles in the air. Some vehicles do not have as good a ventilation system. If you’re on a bus, train, or other vehicle where it’s safe to open the window, do it.

Wear a face cover on your entire journey to protect you from any respiratory droplets that virus particles may contaminate. Open the window if you’re traveling in a taxi or using a ride-sharing service like Uber. Consider the surfaces that a lot of people have likely touched. After your trip, you will probably have to touch the surfaces. Make sure that your hands are clean.

 

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