A new report by researchers in Ireland links one flight to 59 cases of coronavirus.
Ireland Flight Linked To Coronavirus Spread
The flight took place over the summer, though researchers have not divulged the date or airline. But we do know several things about the flight:
- The load factor was 17%
- 13 of the 49 passengers onboard tested positive for COVID-19
- The age of the 13 flight cases ranged from 1 to 65 years with a median age of 23 years
- Each passenger transferred via a large international airport
- Passengers originated in three different continents
- Those 13 passengers went on to infect 46 people in Ireland
- Masks were utilized by at least nine of the 13 passengers
- nine passengers were verified to have worn masks
- one child did not wear a mask
- three passengers “may or may not” have worn a mask
After the flight, the first onset of symptoms occurred two days after arrival while the latest case in the entire outbreak occurred 17 days after the flight. 12 of the 13 flight cases were symptomatic. No deaths were reported from the outbreak.
Despite only 49 passengers onboard, the virus spread. A seat map reveals where passengers sat onboard:
Interestingly, the report notes:
“Four of the flight cases were not seated next to any other positive case, had no contact in the transit lounge, wore face masks in-flight and would not be deemed close contacts under current guidance from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC).”
Here, “close contacts” means within two seats of one another (in any direction).
This is how the virus spread throughout Ireland form the infected flight, with the largest outbreaks linked to social gatherings:
Based on a 17% load factor with 49 passengers onboard, that puts the plane’s capacity at 288. While a bit high, my best guess is that this was a Qatar Airways 787, which has a 3-3-3 configuration in economy class. Ethiopian Airlines is also an option and has a similar layout, but was not operating nonstop flights into Dublin over the summer. Both flights are about 7.5 hours.
You can read the full report here.
The report notes that “restriction of movement on arrival and robust contact tracing” are necessary to combat against the spread of virus. Already, Ireland has introduced tougher measures including new stay-at-home measures and 14-day quarantine requirements for arrivals from some nations. Sadly, this virus is not going away anytime soon.
How would you integrate this story with Kyle’s recent rather inciteful piece and his responses to comments? If people from that region saw this story, do you think it would be reasonable for them to be fearful?
This is your blog. Do you require corrections or will Kyle’s story remain as is? He states “Travelers must present a qualifying negative test to board an airplane to the islands” in the comments, which is incorrect.
Don’t try to “out” the airline or route. There is a very good reason the report didn’t disclose this information.
They disclosed enough details to identify it quite unambiguously, as Matthew did.
1 question. Why is this news?
1 quetschuon. Why are you commenting?
Well, if anything, this seems like good news to me.
Open middle was enough to keep that 1 passenger negative, and there was no transmission between rows.
I didn’t read the study, but it sure seems to me like they all got positive together and then boarded a flight…
Better read it to be sure…because that’s not what it says in there…”In-flight transmission was the only common exposure for four other cases…”
“Genomic sequencing for cases travelling from three different continents strongly supports the epidemiological transmission hypothesis of a point source for this outbreak.”
Much more likely an FA or Gate agent then one of the passengers spreading it to the other 12
Thanks, I see it now. Indeed what you suggest seems far more likely, especially with the seating chart…
The only other thing I can think of is the boarding procedure for pax-pax transmission.
Well here’s how I see it. If you don’t wear a mask, then you’re putting yourself in danger. If everybody wear a mask on the flight, then no transmission. Simple as that.
Matthew, try not to get sick. One wedding in Maine did result in people dying.
But.. But… But… This blog and others have tried to claim that there is zero risk on a flight. Air filtration and all
I’ve claimed no such thing.
Mathew I have always valued your reviews and editorials, but as I understand it these cases were born out of one individuals idiocy.
He vacationed in Spain and returned home to a mandatory isolation in Ireland. He chose to ignore the national requirements and subsequently proved positive for Corona. The national Trace and Track team managed to locate many of the people he interacted with in the subsequent week and located fifty-six people who also contracted the virus from him.
Just for record, I am Irish living in Napa, California. But my wife lives in Dublin, Ireland. I have travelled back to see three times since February. Each time for three weeks. Two weeks isolation and the third beating down the pub doors.
Lastly, keep up the good work. Both informative and entertaining. Very much appreciated in these often solitary times when we think of home, travel and distant places.
Thanks Johnny! Cheers to you.