RIVM experts: ‘Small chance of someone infecting an entire plane’

8 June 2020 by Sunwise Bonaire - Reading time: < 1 minute

Binnenkort mogen toeristen vanuit Nederland, waarschijnlijk weer met het vliegtuig naar Bonaire. Zolang mensen met symptomen daar eerlijk over zijn en thuisblijven, zijn de wetenschappers van het RIVM niet bang dat vliegtuigpassagiers elkaar op grote schaal zullen infecteren.

Airplanes not sources of contamination

Soon the Dutch will be allowed to fly again to – probably – Bonaire, among other places. As long as people with symptoms are honest about it and stay home, RIVM scientists are not afraid that airline passengers will infect each other on a large scale. Infecting an entire plane “has never occurred before,” says Jaap van Dissel, head of infectious disease control at the national institute, among others.

NOS published an interview with the experts, including about air travel, the anti-racism demonstration on Dam Square and the statements of their Swedish colleagues, who acknowledge that the approach in Sweden could have been better.

One-half meter measures not necessarily in aviation

Safety will “never be one hundred percent,” but despite this, Jaap van Dissel does not say that the one-half meter rule in aviation should also necessarily apply. He says it is up to the industry itself to come up with appropriate measures.

Although much is still unclear about contamination danger in an airplane, aviation expert Joris Melkert, like Van Dissel, is convinced that this danger is small. According to Melkert, air ventilation in an airplane is different from, for example, office buildings, cinemas, coaches or trains.” Air circulation in an airplane is incredibly good,” Melkert says. “At high altitude, the air is so thin, it has to be. Otherwise, passengers won’t arrive alive.”

Vertical flow

Most of the air entering the cabin is fresh. Some of it is filtered for reuse with so-called hepa filters, also known in hospitals. Such a filter removes 99 percent of particles and organic substances, including microbes, from the air.

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