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Assessment of SARS-CoV-2 Transmission on an International Flight and Among a Tourist Group

Educational Objective
To understand the transmission rate of COVID-19 on an international flight and among a tourist group
1 Credit CME

This case series assessed a commercial airline flight from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Frankfurt, Germany, that occurred on March 9th, 2020. Among 102 passengers on a Boeing 737-900 aircraft were 24 members of a tourist group. Starting 7 days earlier, the group had contact with a hotel manager who later received a diagnosis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). No member of the group had received a diagnosis of COVID-19 before the flight, and no measures to prevent transmission (eg, wearing of masks) had been applied. The flight duration was 4 hours 40 minutes.

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Article Information

Accepted for Publication: July 14, 2020.

Published: August 18, 2020. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.18044

Correction: This article was corrected on September 16, 2020, to fix an error in the affiliations.

Open Access: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the CC-BY License. © 2020 Hoehl S et al. JAMA Network Open.

Corresponding Author: Sandra Ciesek, MD, Institute for Medical Virology, University Hospital, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, Germany Paul-Ehrlich-Straße 40, 60596 Frankfurt am Main, Germany (sandra.ciesek@kgu.de).

Author Contributions: Drs Ciesek and Hoehl had full access to all of the data in the study and take responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: Hoehl, Karaca, Graf, Ciesek.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: Hoehl, Karaca, Kohmer.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Obtained funding: Ciesek.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Hoehl, Kohmer, Graf, Götsch.

Supervision: Hoehl, Graf, Ciesek.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: None reported.

Additional Contributions: Pia Behrens, MD, and Petra Tiarks-Jungk, MD (Health Protection Authority, City of Frankfurt, Frankfurt am Main, Germany), conducted medical evaluations at the destination airport. Holger Czerwonka, MD, and Michael Sroka, MD, of Frankfurt Airport Medical Services and René Gottschalk, MD, Chief Medical Officer of the Public Health Authority, City of Frankfurt, supported the study and provided advice for the manuscript; Bernd Jilka (PIXELGYM) provided graphical support for Figure 1; and Maria Vehreschild, MD, Department of Infectious Diseases, University Hospital, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main, helped with critical reading of the manuscript. None of these individuals received compensation for their help.

References
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Hertzberg  VS , Weiss  H , Elon  L , Si  W , Norris  SL ; FlyHealthy Research Team.  Behaviors, movements, and transmission of droplet-mediated respiratory diseases during transcontinental airline flights.   Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018;115(14):3623-3627. doi:10.1073/pnas.1711611115PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Leitmeyer  K , Adlhoch  C .  Review article: influenza transmission on aircraft: a systematic literature review.   Epidemiology. 2016;27(5):743-751. doi:10.1097/EDE.0000000000000438PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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Olsen  SJ , Chang  HL , Cheung  TY ,  et al.  Transmission of the severe acute respiratory syndrome on aircraft.   N Engl J Med. 2003;349(25):2416-2422. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa031349PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
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