Catching Covid on a train ‘is as likely wherever you sit or stand’, say scientists

6 月 30, 2022World News

The chances of catching Covid on a train are just as likely no matter where you sit or stand, suggests new research.

Academics at Cambridge University found that trains have no ‘safe spot’ when it comes to reducing risks of catching coronavirus.

Scientists say airborne diseases spread along the length of a carriage and without effective ventilation systems, travelers cannot escape the virus.

One million cases have been reported across the UK, reportedly due to several s ub-variants of Omicron sweeping the nation.

The study found air flow is slowest in the centre – yet this has no affect on an individual’s vulnerability, reports Wales Online.

A good quality mask is the best way to reduce risks on crowded trains
A good quality mask is the best way to reduce risks on crowded trains (Image: AFP via Getty Images)

First author Rick de Kreij explained: “If an infectious person is in the middle of the carriage, then they’re more likely to infect people than if they were standing at the end.

The findings in the journal Indoor Air are based on computer simulations and controlled experiments in a real train carriage.

They also showed masks are more effective than social distancing at preventing transmission – especially in trains that are not ventilated with fresh air.

The results also demonstrate how challenging it is for individuals to calculate absolute risk.

Mr de Kreij called on train operators to improve ventilation systems to help keep passengers safe from respiratory infections – including flu.

He said: “In order to improve ventilation systems it’s important to understand how airborne diseases spread in certain scenarios, but most models are very basic and can’t make good predictions.

“Most simple models assume the air is fully mixed, but that’s not how it works in real life.

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“There are many different factors which can affect the risk of transmission in a train – whether the people in the train are vaccinated, whether they’re wearing masks, how crowded it is, and so on.

“Any of these factors can change the risk level, which is why we look at relative risk, not absolute risk – it’s a toolbox that we hope will give people an idea of the types of risk for an airborne disease on public transport.”

His team developed a one-dimensional model which illustrates how an airborne disease such as Covid can spread.

It is based on a single train carriage with closing doors at either end and can be adapted to fit different types of transport – such as planes or buses.

The motion is linear – to the left or right only. It considers the essential physics for transporting airborne contaminants while being much cheaper than 3D models.


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