SARS-CoV-2, what is an effective strategy to reduce passenger risk?

    The COVID-19 pandemic has substantially changed daily life for people and reduced global travel, and passenger risk has become a huge cause of concern for airlines and several nations. Ever, since the first report of a cluster of cases of pneumonia, later identified as a novel coronavirus, in Wuhan, China, on Dec 31, 2019, the causative virus SARS-CoV-2 has spread globally with an unprecedented number of cases and deaths.

    An estimated 30–40% of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 are asymptomatic and do not know about their infection, and this population contributes to a large proportion of new cases and transmissions.

    According to a simulation study published in The Lancet Journal Routine asymptomatic testing for SARS-CoV-2 before travel can be an effective strategy to reduce passenger risk of infection during travel, although abbreviated quarantine with post-travel testing is probably needed to reduce population-level transmission due to importation of infection when travelling from a high to low incidence setting.

    Asymptomatic viral testing strategies for SARS-CoV-2 could facilitate safe airline travel through reduction of passenger risk of infection and population-level risk from importation of infection due to travel, according to a simulation study published in The Lancet Journal.

    A strategy of routine viral testing during travel has two possible applications: reduction in passenger risk of infection in the airport or on aeroplanes by detecting passengers who are infected and preventing their travel, and reduction in the number of importations of infections to a new city, hence reducing the effect of travel on population-level transmission risk.

    As of January, 2021, the mainstay strategy in most countries has been to avoid travelling altogether, although this strategy is likely to change over time, especially as vaccination programmes become more prevalent.

    The principal public health strategies have been the implementation of universal use of facemasks, physical distancing interventions aimed at reducing the number of social interactions, and test-and-isolate strategies to slow the spread of the virus.

    During the pandemic period of 2020 to early 2021, domestic and international airline travel has been reduced globally by over 80%, as estimated by the US Transportation Security Administration.


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