Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 on an international flight


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • Univadis Medical News
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A new study has examined the rate of SARS-CoV-2 transmission on a flight from Israel to Germany on March 9th.

Among 102 passengers was a 24-member tourist group, none of whom were diagnosed with COVID-19 before the flight.

On arrival, the group was assessed for COVID-19. Passengers seated within two rows of the index cases and those who reported symptoms were offered SARS-CoV-2 IgG antibody testing. Seven tested positive in throat swabs on arrival. Four were symptomatic during the flight and two were pre-symptomatic.

Serum samples were obtained from 13 of 71 other passengers. One tested positive by PCR four days after the flight. This passenger did not recall any symptoms and reported no contact with COVID-19 patients before or after the flight. Seven other passengers reported symptoms suggestive of COVID-19 within 14 days after the flight. Six symptomatic and five asymptomatic passengers were tested 6-9 weeks after the flight. All tested negative.

The authors concluded that there were two likely transmissions on this flight, with seven index cases. Both passengers were seated within two rows of an index case. However, these transmissions may have occurred before or after the flight. It could be speculated that wearing a mask could have reduced transmission.