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Travel from Ireland to UK

Nov 1, 2020
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Hi chaps, my son, wife and 1 year old twins are planning to come here for a few days in December, my wife and I are in our 70s and my wife, being diabetic, is vulnerable. I am concerned and whilst we would love to see them all (first time in a year) I am a little worried especially as they will fly ! Anyone any thoughts please ?
 
Jul 24, 2020
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With the high amount of virus transmission at the moment in the UK, I would think its a risky endevour, especially considering your own circumstances; there was a recently documented instance of covid spread resulting from an airplane journey (incidentally to Ireland):
"A summer flight to Ireland led to a 59-person COVID outbreak"

Dr. Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert who fronts CIDRAP out of University of Minnesota, recently addressed the matter of air travel during the pandemic on his weekly podcast. I would refer you to his opinion so as to help you make a more informed decision for your family. You can listen to the whole 1hr audio podcast here:
Episode 26: Planes, Trains, or Automobiles?

Here is the transcript from the above podcast on this topic:

Chris Dall [00:41:53] All right. So now to the questions about travel and the upcoming holidays. I'll start with another listener e-mail. This one from Lisa who writes, 'My question is about air travel. How safe is it? My mother, who's ninety one, lives alone in Florida. So far, I've not traveled down to her. There may come a time before this pandemic is over, based on your 12 to 14 month projection that I will need to go down to her. It's a three hour ride. Is there a way to protect myself? Would I need an N95 mask? Would it be better to drive down? If I drive, are public bathroom is safe?' So Mike, what do we know about coronavirus transmission with travel in the weeks to months ahead?


Michael Osterholm [00:42:30] This is a very difficult one because the information is quite incomplete. And let me just tell you that I wrestle with this from a very personal perspective. You know, prior to this pandemic, I was almost a two hundred thousand mile a year flier. I spent a lot of days, not just hours, days on airplanes. I've not been on a plane since March. And I don't have any interest in getting into plane right now. Now, I'll try to be very measured in my comments because I understand the implications they may have for the travel industry. I surely don't want to create, you know, some kind of controversy about this, but I think that there's still a lot of unknowns and uncertainties about let's just cover air travel first. I actually have had experience with infectious disease and air travelers, having worked up several outbreaks when I was at the state of Minnesota, or at least potential outbreaks where airplanes were involved. One of the most notable cases was an individual who flew from Europe to Minneapolis, then on to the Mayo Clinic with a highly drug resistant TB and HIV. And it turned out that on his sputum when he was seen at the Mayo Clinic, it was a four plus. In other words, it lit up like a Christmas tree. And so we had grave concerns about the potential transmission there. I've worked on measles situations, etcetera. So I will just tell you one thing that planes today, the air quality is much, much superior to what it was several decades ago. And people were even allowed to smoke because the filters in the planes actually clogged up quickly with the tar in nicotine made the filters largely inoperable at that time. So what happens in a plane? Let's just take where you're seated, what's going on. This is actually a good news situation. The planes do have a ventilation system that actually meets requirements for even COVID patients in isolation rooms. They have anywhere from 10 to 12 air changes per hour. The air actually comes out of the top. And this is why that air coming outside of your vent can be important. And then its basically driven to the floor and then it goes into the side of the body of the plane and into the filters recycled back. Depending on how the plane is being run, and what I mean by that is there's what we call bleed air, it bleeds off the engine, which actually takes more energy to have more air recirculation, but it delivers about 50 percent air from the engine, 50 percent recirculated air, with that recirculated air going through that HEPA filter. And so from that perspective, actually, this is a pretty good situation. If I had to be seated next to somebody it'd be a lot safer than being seated next to, for example, in a theater. But it's not a guarantee. If you're sitting next to someone who is infected, you don't know who they are and you both are masked, you still have a real possibility of becoming infected, given that the low dose likely of infection for SARS-CoV-2, could very well happen there even before the virus was driven into those next filters. So at this point, I would say the airline industry has done about as much as it can in terms of the planes themselves. But clearly, we can't say no. We can say it truly is a much safer event than, say, riding on a bus or something like that. So the challenge we have then is what does this all mean? Well, don't forget, the travel is much more than just sitting an airplane, even with a mask on. It's getting to the airport if you take a cab. It's in the airport terminal itself. It's what I often jokingly say is the cattle car at the gate. It's getting in close contact with the people coming down the gate down to the jetway. It is waiting for your bags at the baggage claim. It's all of those things that also add to this. And then when you are somewhere else, the question is, are you actually in a private residence or in a public area? Are you eating out at restaurants, etcetera, etcetera? That's been one of the challenges of trying to understand what the risk of transmission has been. There have been several studies now done of what appeared to be isolated, and I want to emphasize isolated outbreaks on planes of one or two people sitting next to someone who was infected, but today, you can't know who is infected on these planes. You just don't know who that person is sitting next to you for three hours. And if you have your face cloth covering on, you know, again, you're going to be afforded potentially some protection if they have one on, but as I said, I don't believe that's going to be nearly enough necessarily to prevent you from becoming infected. So what do we need to know? Well, first of all, we really have very, very poor data on who's flying and who's getting infected and what the potential risk exposure might be. Health departments are strapped to look at this issue. We've looked at health department collected data, a very outstanding story in The Washington Post, did a similar kind of analysis. And the bottom line is it's really incomplete because first off, I'm flying and I've become positive three days after my flight and I become clinically ill, five days, whatever. Was it the flight that did it? Was it at the airport? Was it in the cab? Was it some other part of that experience that got me exposed? And we just don't know. In addition to that, if you look at just how many people have been exposed to someone on a flight, this is where the CDC basically in this September 19th article by Ian Duncan in The Washington Post, really laid out the fact that there had been at least 11000 people who had been exposed to coronavirus on flights for which we have very poor information about who they are. Did they fall ill with this infection? What are their testing, etc.? So my bottom line message on a plane right now for those in the airline industry, I surely don't want to make life difficult for you, but I will avoid flying for as long as I can at this point until we have hopefully a vaccine that is going to be much more protective and reduce the number of infected people. Do I think that the airlines industry is doing what it can to reduce transmission? I think so. I think the do not fly list for people who won't wear a mask is fair. I support that issue. I would love to see right now more studies done, particularly seroprevalence studies done in flight attendants. Let's see if they are, in a sense, the canary in the coal mine, unfortunately, I hate to say that its not meant with disrespect, but if they're showing up with an increased percentage of people positive, that gives us some evidence that, in fact, airline flight is a challenge. We don't have those data. Those data should be collected and should be part of an ongoing assessment, as critical as this is. So from that part of travel, I have a challenge. Now, let me take it to the road trip up travel. That's where you're in your vehicle, you're traveling. And I think actually that can be done much more safely. You know, if you're going from point A to point B, even several nights long, I think that you surely can pump gasoline safely. The one challenge will be using the bathrooms. I understand that. And, you know, that's in and out, clearly wearing the mask in and out. But it's also one where, you know, again, unless there is someone who is in there just prior to you and ventilation is very poor, the idea of the very limited time period of using the bathroom is such that I believe that the risk of a infectious dose exposure is quite low. Staying in hotels, you know, if someone hasn't been in the room and the ventilation system has been working, I don't worry about the surface contamination, as we've talked about before. Part of hygiene theater, I worry about the air and I find those rooms not likely to have enough virus, even if the housekeeping people were in there several hours before to be any kind of a challenge in terms of transmission. So I think you can stay at a hotel, you know, check in quickly, mask. Don't wait around. And so if I were going to travel right now, that's how I'd do it. I would see the world in a car or an RV or whatever you want to do. And so to answer your question about, you know, should you go see your mother or not? Lisa, I would say please go see your mother. Don't wait. Go do it now. You know, do it twice. Do it three times. And if I were you, I would get in a car and travel. And that to me would make me feel most comfortable. You know, take time right now you say, well, it's a lot easier to do a three hour flight to Florida than it is to drive there taking two or three days. You know, this is COVID time. Use it. And so I would say that's the one thing I would do. And at this point, I will know when I personally feel whatever this intangible is that I have between my professional knowledge and my personal feelings is when I can go back into an orchestra hall and feel confident when I listen to the music or watch the play that I'm comfortable being there. And that when I get back in an airplane. And when that happens, you know, then I'll know I'm there and I'll share that with you.
 
Nov 1, 2020
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Thank you PseudaFed for such a comprehensive and useful response, it really has helped, it's a difficult and emotional decision, we haven't seen them for a year and want to but for there safety and our own (we are that much older of course) it's probably a good idea to be a little more patient ... good of you to take the time ... Roger
 
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Sep 6, 2020
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Hi chaps, my son, wife and 1 year old twins are planning to come here for a few days in December, my wife and I are in our 70s and my wife, being diabetic, is vulnerable. I am concerned and whilst we would love to see them all (first time in a year) I am a little worried especially as they will fly ! Anyone any thoughts please ?
Your Government (?) site doesnt appear the best but has information here-


I am not sure what you would do whilst in Great Britain (UK?) other than stay indoors with family and the occassional walk out, but it may be best to pick a late Spring/ Summer visit rather than a time when coronavirus strains are most rampant.
 

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