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47 Passengers Caught COVID on a Flight to Hong Kong. Can This Happen in US Flights Too?



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A single commercial airline flight from New Delhi to Hong Kong on April 4 recorded 47 passengers testing positive for COVID19. That’s 25% of the 188 passengers aboard. All of the passengers were tested negative 72 hours before their departure as part of Hong Kong’s travel requirements. However, 25 immediately tested positive after landing and another 22 cases were recorded by day 12.

Can this happen in the US too? Or has it happened in the US but authorities are just clueless that it happened? Perhaps, the public will never know if this already happened in the US. There is no contract tracing program for air travelers.

Can This Happen in US Flights?

Despite the new variants, the airline industry has actively pushed back against the CDC. The CDC released a study suggesting empty middle seats decrease COVID exposure in US flights by 23% to 57%. But instead of accepting this study, the industry believed its own research that claims low risk in flying.

United Airlines chief communications officer Josh Earnest said that “when it comes to blocking middle seats, that’s a PR strategy. That’s not a safety strategy”.

However, the airline industry is sending mixed signals. If you are on one of those US flights, there is a chance that you can’t order by using your voice. Southwest Airlines was reported trying to stop passengers from ordering using their voices even when they are wearing masks. Next, United Airlines flight attendants are worried that the resumption of snacks on flights can lead to a “toxic environment”.

The airline industry lost billions because of lockdowns and government mandates aimed to stop the spread of the virus.  This time around, it is apparent that airlines are looking to fill as many seats as possible.

The bright side is that the US vaccinated millions of Americans. This makes it possible to reach herd immunity sooner than later compared to other countries.