With new VTL’s opening in Singapore, we’re finally dusting off our suitcases, relocating our travel pillows, and thinking about heading towards Changi airport with manic smiles on our faces. But while we are all thrilled to have the opportunity to head overseas, getting on a flight can throw up causes for concern on how to stay safe and feel like a daunting prospect. Indeed, it’s more important than ever that we stay safe and stick to the rules. “It’s understandable that many of us want to jet off this Christmas, but with the Delta variant spreading across the world, it’s imperative that we stay vigilant,” warns Dr Valerie Druon from Osler Health International. Read on for her tips on how to stay safe on a flight during Covid-19
Give people space
Stand and sit as far away as possible from others (especially those outside your travelling party). The recommendation is to stay at least two metres from others. Be aware of this during check-in, at the airport, and at all communal locations. These days airplanes have HEPA filters and clean outdoor air as well as the recirculated air that passes through them. Many airlines thoroughly clean planes with an electrostatic disinfectant that clings to seatbelts and other high-touch surfaces, so you are being well looked after.
Mask up at all times
This is the big one and I cannot stress it enough. The best way to stay safe on a flight during Covid-19 is to wear your mask throughout the flight and only take it off to eat and drink. If those around you have their mask off to eat and drink, wait until they have finished and then take your turn. Wear a mask when you go to the toilet, and try to keep your children masked up throughout the flight, too.
Don’t walk about
As a doctor, I would usually be suggesting getting up and walking around regularly – but not during the pandemic. Walking around is now discouraged by most airlines as it moves potentially polluted air around the cabin. Do stretch out, stretch your legs, wiggle your toes and lift your arms above your head, but this is no time for a casual stroll. If you’re at risk of Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) please see a doctor before you leave to discuss ways to keep you safe.
Wash and sanitise your hands (a lot)
While most airplanes have an excellent cabin cleaning processes, going through the airports and collecting luggage lends itself to more surface contact. Stay safe by washing your hands with soap thoroughly – remember to sing two rounds of the ‘Happy Birthday’ song while doing so – and sanitise regularly to minimise risk. If you’re travelling to the Northern Hemisphere, it’s even more important to wash your hands (difficult when your hands are already cold, but don’t give up!).
Avoid touching your face
Try to avoid touching your face, mouth and eyes as much as possible. Your eyes and your mouth are places where the virus can easily enter your body. Research shows that on average we touch our face up to 16 times an hour. This is key to spreading the virus. Also, avoid touching and adjusting the front of your mask as much as possible. Remember to try and remove your mask from the ear attachments only.
Dr Valerie Druon is an Australian French-speaking family GP based at Osler Health International Star Vista clinic. T: 6339 2727, osler-health.com