The safest place to sit on an aeroplane while the coronavirus outbreak continues to expand may be the window seat, according to new university research.
Fox News reports a study by the FlyHealthy Research Team at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, observed behaviours of passengers and airline crew across 10 flights of between three and five hours in the United States.
It found those who were seated in the window had less contact with potentially infected people, National Geographic reported.
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Respiratory illnesses, like coronavirus, generally spread through a person coming into contact with an infected person’s saliva or mucus. Droplets from a sneeze or cough can land on surfaces, such as tray tables or arm rests, and potentially infect a nearby passenger sharing the enclosed space.
However, those sitting in window seats had less interaction with other passengers – beyond those sitting within two rows of them – thus limiting their chances of interacting with an infected person, study leads Vicki Stover Hertzberg of Emory University and Howard Weiss of Penn State University discovered.
Those seated in aisle seats, however, were more likely to come into contact with passengers moving about the cabin to use the lavatory or with the airline’s crew members – an average of 64 contacts versus the window seat’s 12.
“Suppose you’re seated in an aisle seat or a middle seat and I walk by to go to the lavatory,” Prof Weiss, professor of biology and mathematics, told National Geographic.
“We’re going to be in close contact, meaning we’ll be within a metre. So if I’m infected, I could transmit to you … Ours was the first study to quantify this.”
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A 2018 study showed most passengers got up from their seats at some point during the flight. Those seated in window seats were least likely to move from their seats. Only 43 per cent of those seated in the window got up as opposed to 80 per cent of those in the aisle.
The limited research did point out the test was not conducted over long-haul flights or on planes with two aisles.
However, the research states that regardless of seating, there is a fairly low risk of transmission of the virus if you’re seated in middle or aisle seats as other passengers will be “moving quickly” down the aisle.
“In aggregate, what we show is there’s quite a low probability of transmission to any particular passenger,” Prof Weiss said.
The study also said the research model does not account for the transmission of aerosols, which is possibly how coronavirus can be spread.
Health authorities are reminding people of the simple things they can do to reduce risks. These include washing hands regularly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs and avoiding contact with wild or farm animals.
Many airlines have already suspended flights to mainland China amid the outbreak, which has claimed the lives of more than 130 people and left more than 6000 others sick, including seven people in Australia as of Thursday morning.
This article originally appeared on Fox News and was reproduced with permission