Study: ‘Covid-19 infections on trains affected by distance and time’
Researchers at Southampton University have examined the risks of catching the Covid-19 virus while on a train journey. If you sit directly beside an infected traveler, there is, on average, a 3,5% risk of catching the disease, while if you’re seated on the same row, that falls to 1,5%. Researchers also note that if the train journey lasts more than two hours, a distance of 2,5 m isn’t enough to avoid transmission.
The study, which was published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, is based on a computerized model taking data from the high-speed rail network of China. Southampton University researches have conducted different scenarios.
The first finding was that train passengers sitting more than three rows (widthwise) and five columns (lengthwise) away from an infected person would have near to zero risks of catching the Covid-19 from that person. However, if they are seated closer, risks vary from null to 10,3%. On average, the transmission rate for those passengers in ‘close contact’ was 0,32%.
To push it a little further, researchers found out that someone sitting directly beside an infected passenger has, on average, a 3,5% more risk of catching the Covid-19 virus. If seated on the same row, that risk falls down to 1,5%. If someone sits where the infected passenger previously sat, the risk of infection is almost negligible, 0,075%.
‘2,5 m is not enough’
“Our study shows that although there is an increased risk of transmission of Covid-19 on trains, the location regarding an infectious person and the length of the journey can make big differences to the disease’s transmission,” notes Dr. Shengjie Lai, lead author of the study.
The study emphasizes the fact that on a journey longer than two hours, the safe distance of 2,5 meters isn’t enough to fully prevent the transmission. “It shows that the risk of transmission is not only about distances but also about the time spent in the presence of an infectious passenger.”
“We hope this can help to inform authorities around the world about the measures needed to protect everyone against the virus and help reduce its spread,” ends Dr. Shengjie Lai.