Covid expert shares how likely you are to catch the virus on public transport

With temperatures slowly dropping across the country, Covid and flu cases are expected to go up as viruses thrive in the dry, cold conditions.

This means that social settings could expose you to potentially infected respiratory droplets, putting you at a higher risk of contracting respiratory illnesses.

Worryingly, your daily commute could be especially risky when it comes to contracting Covid, according to Dr Chris Papadopoulos, Principal Lecturer in Public Health at the University of Bedfordshire.

Once you step into a crowded train carriage or a bus, there are many factors at play that could influence whether you will catch the virus.

Dr Papadopoulos told “One of the most glaring risk factors is physical proximity to other passengers—especially within the confines of a one to two metre distance.

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“This is particularly worrisome during rush hours when social distancing isn’t possible.

“The absence of face masks among other commuters exacerbates this risk, elevating the chance of airborne viral transmission.”

The lack of ventilation on public transport is another “significant” risk factor that creates a cocktail of viral particles that can persist and concentrate in the air.

“Furthermore, the role of high-touch communal areas – such as handrails and seats – serves as another vector for transmission,” the public health expert added.

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Worryingly, the longer you are exposed to all of these conditions, the higher your chances of catching Covid.

Dr Papadopoulos said: “Collectively, these elements – close human interaction, crowded settings, inadequate air circulation, and frequent contact with shared surfaces – render public transport a particularly fertile breeding ground for Covid transmission.”

However, the expert noted that buses and trains with poor ventilation seem to pose the highest risk for viral transmission, especially during peak hours.

While public transport presents a higher risk, other social settings can also land you with Covid.

The professor said: “Research suggests that venues like offices, schools, universities, and indoor events, such as concerts and sporting activities, can pose even greater risks than public transport, owing to the extended periods of close-proximity indoor interactions that occur in these settings.”

Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to minimise your risk of contracting the virus, including wearing high-quality masks that fit snugly and maintaining good hand hygiene.

The Covid expert also suggested considering travelling during off-peak hours to minimise your risk.

Other “commonly overlooked” tips include standing or sitting near windows or air vents to benefit from better air circulation, or choosing seats at the front or back of trains where there are usually fewer people.

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