What is the probability that you will get coronavirus if you travel in the same car as someone who is sick?
Research from the University of Southampton in the UK calculated the likelihood that passengers are infected with COVID-19 if they travel in the same wagon as a sick person.
The model was based on the design of high-speed trains in China, which usually have a configuration of six seats: three on one side and three on the other, separated by an aisle in the middle of the car, which can have up to 18 rows long; however, it may be indicative for other types of metro, train, bus and other public transport configurations.
The study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, analyzed data from 2 thousand 334 people who fell ill with COVID-19 and from 72 thousand 39 close people with whom they traveled from 0 to 8 hours between December 19, 2019 and December 6 March 2020 in China.
Passengers traveling to one side, the most exposed
The investigation revealed that the passengers most at risk of contagion are those who travel alongside a sick person, with 3.5% probability from contracting the virus; while who they share a row with someone infected (they are located exactly in front of or behind the infected one) have a 1.5% chance to be positive.
Being in the radius close to the sick person still implies a risk: “of the train passengers sitting within three rows (across) and five columns (along) of an infected person, between 0 and 10.3% contracted the disease. The average transmission rate for these ‘close contact’ travelers was 0.32%, ”the study explains.
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Logically, the contagion rate decreases as distance increases to the sick person; however, the probability of getting sick rises proportionally according to how long the ride is shared with a sick person, at the rate of .15% per hour for the entire car and in the case of passengers traveling immediately to the side, ahead or behind, it increases by 1.3% per hour.
The safest way to travel
If the trip will be less than an hour, the safe social distance is more than one meter; while after 2 hours of contact, the study assures that «maintaining a distance of less than 2.5 meters may be insufficient to prevent transmission. ‘
Finally, the research states that «the recommended distance is at least 2 separate seats within the same row, with travel time limited to 3 hours«.
The study also worked to dismiss the infections caused by sitting in a place that was previously occupied by someone with coronavirus: only .075 of people who took over from the seat were infected.
According to the University of Southampton, this is the first research of its kind that makes it possible to estimate the individual risk of contracting COVID-19 in public transport, a space considered by most governments as high risk, although it does not there was scientific evidence in this regard until now.
Those responsible for the study consider that their research may be useful for health authorities, in order to establish effective measures that help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in public transport around the world.
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