CDC study reveals how coronavirus can spread in airplanes

COVID-19 has been shown to spread on airplanes even among asymptomatic travelers, according to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The study, which was published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases, found evidence of transmission on an evacuation flight from Milan, Italy, to Seoul, South Korea in late March.

Before boarding the flight, around 300 passengers were screened for virus symptoms and given an N95 mask, researchers said.

When the passengers arrived, they were quarantined by the government for two weeks and regularly tested, according to the study

Six of the travelers — who were asymptomatic — tested positive at the start of the quarantine, researchers said.

Israeli flight attendants wearing protective gear work in a flight to Israel.
Israeli flight attendants wearing protective gear work in a flight to Israel.CHINE NOUVELLE/SIPA/Shutterstock

On the final day of the quarantine, a seventh passenger tested positive, despite previously receiving negative results, the report said.

The passenger — who had been seated three rows ahead of asymptomatic travelers — had worn her N95 mask for the entire duration of the flight except to use the bathroom.

Researchers noted that the same toilet was used by at least one of the infected travelers.

They concluded that it’s “highly likely” that she caught the virus from the evacuation flight.

“Given that she did not go outside and had self-quarantined for 3 weeks alone at her home in Italy before the flight and did not use public transportation to get to the airport, it is highly likely that her infection was transmitted in the flight via indirect contact with an asymptomatic patient,” researchers wrote.