New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: As India enters its fourth-phase -- Unlock 4.0 -- of the reopening of the economy from a coronavirus-mandated lockdown, and preps up to open public transport such as Metro services, a new study, published this week, has suggested that the virus can spread rapidly in small and closed settings like public transport.

According to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, a journal of the American Medical Association (AMA), one person infected with COVID-19 passed on the deadly infection to 23 of the 67 passengers travelling in a bus in China.

The JAMA study stated that the coronavirus spread happened in one of the two buses that carried 128 passengers who visited a religious event in eastern China in January.  

“Those who rode a bus with air recirculation and with a patient with Covid-19 had an increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection compared with those who rode a different bus,” said the authors, who studied the spread that took place on January 19 in Zhejiang province.

The study further said that the super-spreader, whose gender was not specified, was showing no symptoms of COVID-19 at the time of travel. The passenger mapping showed that the sickest people were in the front and back of the bus, outside the perimeter of 1-2 metres (three-six feet) that infectious droplets reportedly travel.

“The investigations suggest that in closed environments with air recirculation, SARS-CoV-2 is a highly transmissible pathogen,” said the study.

In early April, a high-level US scientific panel was the first to flag that the Sars-CoV-2 is airborne and could stay suspended in air in the ultrafine mist produced from normal breathing.

According to the experts, complete adherence to social distancing norms and safe behaviour is non-negotiable for people to travel in public transport after its resumption.

Dr K Srinath Reddy, president, Public Health Foundation of India, as quoted by Hindustan Times said, “For buses, we must have thermal screening, spaced seating; masks (compulsory); supervised boarding (from the back) and deboarding (from the front), and open windows. For metros, thermal screening; orderly boarding and deboarding procedures; and spaced seating, where possible.”.

The government, under its Unlock 4.0 guidelines, announced the resumption of Metro services from September 7 across the nation, in a graded manner and will increase gradually with the resumption of full revenue service by September 12, 2020.

As per the SOPs for Metro travel, "Only asymptomatic persons to be allowed to travel after thermal screening at entry into the stations. Symptomatic persons should be advised to go to nearby COVID Care Centre/Hospital for testing/medical attention. Use of Aarogya Setu App to be encouraged."

Posted By: Talib Khan