A GP guide to air travel and SARS-CoV-2

With the prospect of international air travel no longer a flight of fancy, it is vital that we are able to navigate the risks and implications posed by COVID-19

Need to know:

  • Air travel remains one of the safest travel alternatives, even in the COVID-19 era.
  • The risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission on aircraft appears to be low — probably, in part, because of cabin ventilation systems that operate in-flight.
  • Proximity to an infected person in-flight increases the likelihood of transmission, with movement around the cabin and fomite spread also playing a role.
  • Preventive measures for those continuing air travel include consistent mask wearing, practising of social distancing in-flight and in transit before and after flying, and regular hand and surface disinfection.

Now SARS-CoV-2 vaccination programs are getting started, and Qantas has optimistically announced that flights to the UK and US will recommence in July this year, the risks of COVID-19 for international air travel are more relevant than ever.