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The risk of contracting coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) during air travel is lower than from an office building, classroom, supermarket, or commuter train.
The virus that causes COVID-19 is emitted when someone talks, coughs, sneezes, or sings, mainly in droplets that can be propelled a short distance, and sometimes in smaller aerosol particles that can remain suspended and travel further. Another person can be infected if these particles reach their mouth or nose, directly or via hands. Transmission via surface contact is also important in some cases.
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Published Online: October 1, 2020. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.19108
Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Pombal reported being an employee of TAP Air Portugal Group Health Services and is chairperson of the Aerospace Medical Association Air Transport Medicine Committee. Dr Hosegood reported being an employee of Qantas Airways and is president of the International Airline Medical Association. Dr Powell reports receipt of personal fees from the IATA.
Sources: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, IATA, European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control
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