Can I catch COVID-19 on a train? New study explains which seats are riskiest
TORONTO -- Physical distancing is necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19 on public transit, according to a first-of-its-kind study examining data from China's busiest train.
The researchers behind the study say their findings show that there is a "high transmission risk" for COVID-19 among transit passengers, with those sitting directly beside an infected person facing the most risk of all.
The study was published July 29 in Clinical Infectious Diseases and conducted by researchers from various Chinese institutions and the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom.
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Using data from Chinese health authorities and rail timetables, they were able to identify 2,334 "index patients" – passengers who started to show COVID-19 symptoms within 14 days of their trip and were diagnosed with COVID-19 – and 72,093 other passengers who sat within three rows and five seats of those index patients.
All of the trips were taken on China's G trains between mid-December and late February, as the novel coronavirus was spreading beyond Wuhan to the rest of China and the rest of the world. The G trains account for the majority of Chinese passenger rail trips and carry more passengers than all of the country's airlines combined.
According to the study, 234 of the 72,093 passengers who sat near an index patient ended up testing positive for the disease themselves. That works out to 0.32 per cent, a number the researchers call the "attack rate."
The attack rate for passengers ...
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