When news of COVID-19 first broke out, even before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it as a pandemic, I had wondered how the novel coronavirus would impact travelling.
You see, as an avid traveller who largely depends on public transportation, I was particularly interested to learn how the virus could be transmitted in closed spaces with air-conditioning, such as in planes, on trains and buses.
Recently, I came across this video produced by University of Malaya (UM) on How to safely travel in a taxi or e-hailing car? This video explains how air is circulated in a car, with air-conditioning.
Video: Travel Safely in a Car
I have always been of the opinion that we should wind down the windows for fresh air, rather than using the air-con with the current COVID-19 threat. As a frequent rider, I know this practice is not easily accepted by drivers. At the same time, if the driver had made a similar suggestion, a rider would disagree, and might rate the driver unfavourably.
Therefore, I have repeatedly stressed that this procedure should be enforced by all e-hailing or taxi companies at its highest management level, for the safety of both driver and passenger. As long as an official announcement regarding this temporary policy is not made, taking a taxi or utilising the e-hailing service is always risky.
Besides the video, I also came across this visual on decreasing commuters’ risk of infection on the train or LRT. Avoid peak hours, keep social distance of at least 1 to 2 metres, and regularly wash your hands with soap and water when available, or minimally sanitise using a solution containing 70% ethanol.
On the other hand, for airplanes, air is circulated through hospital-grade HEPA filters, which remove 99.97 percent of bacteria. Nonetheless, whether taking the plane, bus, car or train, it is advisable to wear a face mask, as another defensive measure against infection of not only COVID-19 but also other germs.