International Flight Linked To COVID Outbreak


An outbreak of 59 coronavirus (COVID-19) cases has been linked to an international flight into Ireland, according to a report released in infectious disease journal Eurosurveilance last month. Following the flight, which took place over the summer, thirteen of the 49 passengers onboard tested positive for COVID-19. Another 46 laboratory-confirmed cases were linked to contact with those individuals. The aircraft was at just 17 percent passenger capacity and the study noted that nine of the 13 passengers who tested positive were wearing masks, one was not, and mask use was unknown for three. The affected airline and the origin of the flight were not disclosed in the report.

“This outbreak demonstrates the potential for spread of SARS-CoV-2 linked to air travel,” researchers stated in the report. “Onward transmission from 13 passenger cases resulted in a total of 59 cases in six of eight HSE [Health Service Executive] health regions in Ireland, necessitating national oversight of the outbreak. We calculated high attack rates, ranging plausibly from 9.8% to 17.8% despite low flight occupancy and lack of passenger proximity on-board.”

Researchers were unable to identify the source case for the outbreak but found that two people became symptomatic within 48  hours of the flight and three additional case were confirmed within five days. Genetic sequencing of five samples from individuals linked to the outbreak showed a greater than 99 percent similarity in the viral strain found in each, “strongly suggesting” a single source of infection. Researchers contributing to the study were affiliated with Ireland’s Department of Public Health and Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC).

The full text of the report can be viewed here.

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  1. “The aircraft was at just 17-percent passenger capacity and the study noted that nine of the 13 passengers who tested positive were wearing masks, one was not, and mask use was unknown for three.”

    Lots of information in those 35 words. Thanks, Kate.

    • Which of course accomplished little, since people were still free to travel to the US from other destinations after potentially visiting China, or after being in contact with someone who had been in China. In addition to the fact that behaviors to limit the spread once here, such as social distancing and PPE were undermined for political purposes. Oh yeah, there’s been some great leadership alright – in the absolute wrong direction.

      • Which Party proclaimed loudly that “travel bans are racist,” and attempted to overturn them in the courts?
        You’re welcome.

        Speaking of hiding in basement bunkers, Groundhog Day is coming. What’s the significance? Shadow or not, that’s the day on which our president-elect will become responsible ( ! ) for EVERY subsequent case of Covid; every hospitalization; every death. Why? because it will have been two weeks since his inauguration, and – as the “scientific community agrees – the incubation period is not longer than two weeks.

        Will the man who asserted that his predecessor was “responsible for every death” take that responsibility upon himself after February 2? Do pigs fly?

        Leadership, indeed.

    • As I recall, that ban did not stop close to 40,000 US citizens from coming back from China. Also, let’s not forget that Europe was starting to spread and it was not till March that the leadership of this country shut down travel to and from Europe (and in a way to create massive panic).

      It means nothing to crow about stopping the leak in the bow when the stern is filling up just fine or to put it in aviation terms, it does little to brag about almost recovering from a stall only to find you ran out of airspace. Either way you’re F’d.

  2. For an airplane so empty, why were so many of them sitting so close together? Probably because they were travelling together (such as a family unit) which means their exposure to each other was probably much longer than the flight itself.

  3. To me, this says that flying is still risky. The only kind that seems safe at the moment is in an open cockpit. I am sad for all the distress the industry is suffering right now, but I don’t see myself going to an airport or getting in an enclosed airplane until the vaccination takes hold.

  4. Nothing new under the sun. Covid community transmission comes from Covid infected people in close quarters with others.

    No matter how big an airplane cabin is perceived, it is a very confined space. As others have noted, just the process of arriving at the airport terminal finally progressing into one’s seat, is a plethora of Covid rich opportunity.

    Covid-19 is an inconvenient truth that a significant portion of the US population seems unwilling to accept. That attitude makes it ripe for US leadership to make promises they cannot keep offering all sorts of statements ranging from it is really not that serious to blanket lockdowns to assuage a largely Covid ignorant and Covid tired public.

    At some point, with 100,000+ daily infections, regardless of improved therapeutics, hospitals are already reaching capacity, and the death count is still over 1,000+ people a day and climbing. Add to these community spread numbers three of the most cherished and family intense, close quartered public holidays ( Times Square on New Year’s Eve for example) within 6 weeks of each other, the country with only 5% of the global population but over 20% of the global infections already will be dealing with numbers almost unimaginable.

    Ireland is taking action based on the infection of 59 people on who arrived on an airliner with only 17% of the seats filled. Meanwhile Texas alone has over 1 million infections with no end in sight.

    Our two opposing political parties have proven to be equally inept, willingly ignorant regarding the most basic three requirements to, at the very least, control the community spread. Until a vaccine is available both in efficacy and sufficient numbers for the US population, we are potentially passing into an economic apocalypse plus a death rate that could make the Great Depression look like a minor bump in the road. Add to this perfect storm of US division, a debated election.

    So far the sum total is a numb US public looking for numbers to suggest 240k deaths is a small percentage of the total population making it justifiable to continue to live life as if all this carnage is simply made up.

    Airplanes played more than a significant role in global transmission of this virus. So has restaurants, bars, rallies of all kinds, factories, stadium events, care/nursing homes, etc…any venue that allows or demands people to be in close quarters. No amount of debates about aircraft HVAC systems demonstrates anything other than increase community spread when a few people or a large number of people are stuck in a confined cabin space, Covid spreads.

    Flying commercially is risky, taking public transportation of any kind is risky, eating out is risky, having a drink at the local gin mill is risky, going to Walmart is risky. Just about everything is risky if it involves being indoors in close proximity to another human being.

    There are only two outcomes. Once you contract it, either you live or you die. So far, 10 months into the pandemic, of all those who have contracted Covid and have progressed to an outcome, 4% have died . 96% have lived. That percentage has not changed much for over the last six months.

    Should be an interesting holiday season to say the least. Investing in funeral homes, headstones, and burial plots might be the best “stock” tip for 2021.

  5. It doesn’t much matter.

    Almost everyone who gets Chinavirus is fine. It goes away. It’s not like getting brain cancer or a heart attack.

    Then they are likely immune.

    Once enough people are immune (40-70%) the virus goes away.

    Those who are afraid can hide in their bunkers until the threat is gone, but the rest of Earth needs to get on with their lives and back to work.

    Still, as was mentioned above, “There is nothing new under the sun”. Solomon said that, with wisdom from God and the smartest man at his time if not ever. There will be another virus in the future, or earthquake, or ‘climate change’ or whatever threat real or perceived. It is what it is. Carry on.

    • @William K., you say, “Almost everyone who gets [COVID-19] is fine. It goes away. It’s not like getting brain cancer or a heart attack.”

      I think you are mistaken about that “almost everyone”. Read up a bit on ‘long-haul COVID-19’. For example, “with COVID-19, it’s not just the sickest who face a long road back. A July 24 report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that, out of about 300 non-hospitalized but symptomatic COVID-19 patients, 35% were still experiencing symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath and fatigue up to three weeks after diagnosis.” Source: Time magazine

  6. Still, they will live.

    Also there is a lot of incentive for people to be/remain chronically ill. You may remember the days of ‘chronic fatigue syndrome’ then ‘chronic Lyme disease’ and ‘chronic Epstein Barr’ and ‘adrenal fatigue’ and now ‘fibromyalgia’. Covid provides another opportunity for people to remain ill if they wish.

    It is what it is. Ultimately our mortal cast off shells are worm food. It’s best for people to consider the bigger picture.

    • I can just see the Engine Failure/Fire After Takeoff checklist now reading: “It is what it is. Ultimately our mortal cast off shells are worm food”. Frightening to know that we share the same airspace.

      • You are not showing signs of being able to think deductively.

        There are simple proven reproducible patterns of action to diagnose and treat an engine failure to increase the chances of a good outcome. You analogy is flawed.

        In the case of Chinavirus letting it spread in the healthy portion of the community IS the best emergency measure to allow the natural process of immunity to continue and reduce the risk to the more vulnerable so BLOCKING the transmission is in fact counterproductive to health and economy

          • My 1,850 safe flying hours including high performance and complex and STOL/ off airport experience would disagree with you.

            By the way God is spelled with a capital ‘G’.

            Know your Master, it will pay off in the end.

  7. Fiji rugby team too. Rugby teams have to be more disciplined than many other team sports by the nature of the game — Argentina who just beat the All Blacks had been in quarrantine for something like three months before and flew to Australia, where the match took place, on a special flight.
    The Fijians were not able to do so for their flight to Europe, and at the last count something like six of the squad of 30 or so were positive for Covid — matches cancelled until negative test returns. Such a disappointment for them — they seldom get a chance to play against the European sides.
    Do not expect anything like normal passenger service to resume till everyone on board can wave a govt document saying they have had two vaccination injections, with a month between each one.