Wearing a mask on a plane can allegedly reduce your chance of infection to nearly zero.
According to a new study co-conducted by United Airlines and the US Department of Defense, wearing a double-layered face covering over your mouth and nose while traveling plane can reduce the chances of a coronavirus infection to a mere 0.003%.
Over the course of six months, researchers ran 300 tests on a mock-up of a United Airlines plane with a mannequin head wearing a face mask. The mannequin head possessed a special aerosol system that would regularly spray particles in a facsimile of regular breathing and coughing. Over the course of a simulated flight, the device would release approximately 180 million particles, the typical amount created by human breathing and coughing. Tests were conducted while the mannequin was both wearing and not wearing a mask to determine how the particles would travel around the cabin. Aerosol sensors were placed around the cabin to simulate other passengers and crew. If these sensors detected the particles, this would be a case of infection spreading.
Based on the researchers’ findings, the vast majority of these particles were not received by the numerous simulated passengers. “99.99% of those particles left the interior of the aircraft within six minutes,” United Airlines Chief Communication Officer Josh Earnest told ABC News. “It indicates that being on board an aircraft is the safest indoor public space, because of the unique configuration inside an aircraft that includes aggressive ventilation, lots of airflow.”
This study has been complimented by research recently released by the International Air Transport Association claiming that out of 1.2 billion air travelers, only 44 have tested positive for COVID-19, many of whom contracted the disease before mask-wearing was mandatory. Nevertheless, air travel is still on a 70% decline compared to pre-pandemic statistics.
“We’re seeing recovery, but we have a long way to go,” Earnest said. “And even with all of this promising information about the safety of air travel and some of the advances that we’re making in terms of implementing a testing regimen – we recognize we’re not going to be anywhere close to back to normal until we have a vaccine that’s been widely distributed and administered.”