Scientists including those from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention have found that a safe social distance of more than one metre is required for an hour spent travelling together with the individual to avoid getting infected from Covid 19.
Their findings have been published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.
In the study, the researchers assessed high-speed train routes in China, and found that for passengers sitting within three rows (widthwise) and five columns (lengthwise) of an infected person, between zero and ten percent caught the disease.
Researchers found that:
- The average rate of transmission for these ‘close contact’ travellers was 0.32 per cent.
- Passengers travelling in seats directly adjacent to an index patient suffered the highest level of transmission, with an average of 3.5 per cent contracting the disease.
- For those sitting on the same row, this figure was 1.5 percent.
- The ‘attack rate’ for each seat — which is the number of passengers in a given seat diagnosed with COVID-19, divided by the total number of passengers travelling in the same seat — increased by 0.15 per cent for every hour that a person travelled with an infected individual.
- For those in adjacent seats, it said, this rate of increase was higher at 1.3 per cent per hour.
- Only 0.075 per cent of people who used a seat previously occupied by the infected patient went on to contract the disease.
“Our study shows that although there is an increased risk of COVID-19 transmission on trains, a person’s seat location and travel time in relation to an infectious person can make a big difference as to whether it is passed on,” said Shengjie Lai, lead scientist from the University of Southampton in the UK.
The findings indicate that during the COVID-19 pandemic it is important to reduce the density of passengers and promote personal hygiene measures, the use of face coverings, and possibly carry-out temperature checks before boarding. T
hey said given the attack rates estimated for passengers in the same row as an infected individual, a safe social distance of more than one metre is required for one hour spent travelling together. But after two hours of contact, they said a distance of less than 2.5 metres may be insufficient to prevent transmission.