This week’s featured link
A large national outbreak of COVID-19 linked to air travel, Ireland, summer 2020 – Eurosurveillance
You’ve probably all heard about the Irish flight that was responsible for 59 cases of COVID, right? It’s not quite the dramatic. Yes, 59 cases were tied to people on a flight, but most of those were from transmission on the ground after the flight.
There ended up being 13 people on the flight with COVID, and they don’t know who had it first. Some of these people knew each other and spent 12+ hours in a transit lounge. Another was traveling with someone who had just gotten over COVID, so it could have been transmitted previously. But it is possible that there was some transmission on the flight… we just don’t know for sure and we don’t know how it happened if it did.
What this really says is that yes, it is certainly possible that you could contract COVID on an airplane, but this does nothing to change what we know so far that the risk is very low. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and do what you can to prevent transmission if you need to travel. I’ll still remain convinced that flying is the safest part of the entire travel journey. That, of course, has negative impacts for air travel too. It just changes where I focus my concern.
Two for the road
United Airlines Redesigns Mobile App to be More Accessible for People with Visual Disabilities – United Hub
United put me in the beta testing group, so I was able to take this for a spin before it was launched. Big kudos to the airline for paying attention to the accessibility features of the app. This is important for a lot of travelers, and it rarely gets the attention it deserves.
ANA HOLDINGS Announces Transformative Measures to a New Business Model – ANA Group Media
It’s pretty impressive the way Japanese airlines have the ability to turn a press release into a powerpoint presentation with graphics that make your eyes glaze over. After deciding to combine its two low-cost carriers, ANA has now decided that one low cost carrier isn’t enough. It needs two again. In this plan, the first one (Peach) flies short-haul routes and this new one will go medium-haul. Ok, good luck with that.
Regarding visual disabilities, an estimated 8% of men have some form of deficiency in differentiating colors (not sure if “color blindness” is the most politically correct term these days; please forgive me if not), which is a LOT. I’ve tried to manually tweak presentations and files at work to be more friendly to colleagues who have color perception issues, but it is a bit of a manual process and one that I’m not as familiar/comfortable with as I’d like.
I really wish Microsoft would develop (or better yet, make as its default settings) color palettes that are “color blindness safe” for as many people as possible, so that I’d be able to highlight a cell (or use certain colors) and be certain that with the exception of severe cases my colleagues would be able to recognize the distinctions between the colors I am using.
As a visually impaired individual, I can say with near certainty that you are fine & BTW my father is color blind.
As for UA’s app, good going.
Thanks, Sean. Color blindness is a disability that I’d heard of (and have relatives with it) but never really thought much about until I started working closely with a colleague who is color blind. Once I started making a few tweaks to my files to accomodate, and realized how many people have some form of color blindness, I became surprised that there isn’t more attention given to the issue, just from an ergonomics standpoint… Not hard to accomodate with a few tweaks, but you have to know the nuances to do it well, which I don’t.
“Color blindness is a disability that I’d heard of (and have relatives with it) but never really thought much about until I started working closely with a colleague who is color blind.”
The reason is that color blindness is a type of visual impairment that normally doesn’t effect day to day functioning & most who have it learn to adapt. Your approach to aid others in the work place shows your sensitivity to this condition.
thanks for posting the Euro covid study.
Like so many others, they make conclusive pronouncements in their conclusions about transmission when they leave considerable doubt in the analysis and discussion. Every passenger on the flight boarded and deplaned through a common area so it is still not clear that the people were actually infected on the aircraft.
Does traveling sick expose others to risk? absolutely. But when the travel ribbon contains scores of touch points and many common origins and destinations, arguing that the airplane itself is the location of transmission is neither supported by research or logic.
When recommendations to reduce the spread of disease are violated or ignored, as was the case for at least some of the passengers on the flight, people will become infected and some people will get sick.
“Does traveling sick expose others to risk? absolutely. But when the travel ribbon contains scores of touch points and many common origins and destinations, arguing that the airplane itself is the location of transmission is neither supported by research or logic.”
It’s the same thing with public transit as well, but don’t tell that to NYers who are avoiding transit for fear of catching Covid.
public transit doesn’t have HEPA filters to clean air. During normal rush hours on 4/5/6 train, you are often squeezed next to each other in New York transit. That leaves a lot less real estate than on an airplane. I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the cause of the initial spread in NYC.
There is a lot of reason to believe that high population density and multi-generational households were significant factors in the spread of covid not just in the NE US but also in Europe.
Being IN society is a risk right now because none of us know who is infected and who is not. The option is to completely stay home and protect oneself or to require everyone to stay home. That is what Europe (to varying degrees depending on the country) is doing again but that strategy at best just flattens the curve which is what we were told in the US was the goal of the original lockdowns.
There are riots in Europe because of new lockdowns; the chances of full-scale compliance are not high because many people understand that no government can repay what they are losing in being able to work.
The virus is clearly widespread. Travel is inherently risky from a disease standpoint but the actual airplane is probably the safest part of the experience. The study cited here doesn’t conclusively say where disease transmission happened.
“…but the actual airplane is probably the safest part of the experience.”
Just don’t use a toilet on any plane, especially if someone else was just inside it a few minutes prior. Air does not get replaced that rapidly, and studies have already shown that the virus can live up to 23 days on various tested surfaces.
Also all the people sitting in a certain radius around you have to be completely compliant with masks, which as you know from social media does not happen. I’d hate to be seated on a plane with a person next to me, or behind me, or in front of me, coughing or sneezing, even briefly a few times. Ever seen the backlit videos from researchers showing the droplet dispersion thru the mask when coughing, sneezing, or even yelling loudly? No one is wearing true medical grade N95 masks. Masks are being made from all sorts of materials, some even only 1 layer thick (or thin as the case may be). All the people on the plane sitting around you are wearing masks of different efficacy, or hardly any efficacy, which makes some of these masks just face decorations allowing boarding onto a plane. Unfortunately we don’t live in a predictable laboratory environment. Bad behaviors happen. Also no real universal robust contact tracing is being done at all for aircraft passengers – you only hear almost anecdotally when there a few cross-infection stories in the news. Airlines and the travel industry in general don’t want robust contact tracing of their passengers following flights for fear of further scaring people away and compounding the economic disaster.
covid is well down the list of things you should be worried about in an airplane lav.
That ANA release reads like a parody, why can’t Peach do that flying. Also the graphics are just insane. Also buried in there is “Dissolve the PanAM International Flight Academy in USA.”
That ANA press release is almost as painful to look at as the damaged 747SP.
Almost, That SP loss is a damn shame.