Now that the government has put the rest of the world on the “do not visit” list, the country’s borders are closing down. Only essential overseas travel is recommended. Our airlines are also getting ahead of the curve. Qantas has carved back international flight capacity by 90% with their domestic routes losing 60% of their available seats. Virgin and Jetstar have also made cuts.
On Wednesday, the government provided advice on domestic travel. Should you cancel your domestic air travel?
Anyone who’s visited an airport will know that social distancing can be challenging in an airport queue. And, in a plane, unless the airlines institute new seating arrangements, you’re likely to be sitting next to someone, inside the one metre area that the WHO suggests we need to keep from other people.
The government’s advice on domestic travel on Wednesday is that the risk of being exposed to coronavirus on a plane is low.
The Prime Minister said:
“The travel advice to every Australian is, ‘Do not travel abroad. Do not go overseas’. We have not seen a lot of evidence of people contracting this virus on aircraft; the advice is that air travel, domestic air travel, is low risk. To that end, states and territories are working together with their health advisors, there are parts of this country that it would not be wise for people to visit”.
Travel to remote communities is to be avoided he said as an infection in those communities could be a major problem given the vulnerability of the people and the availability of healthcare.
If you don’t think you need worry on a domestic flight, here’s some sobering information.
Virgin Australia has published a list of flights that have had a confirmed coronavirus case onboard. While some are international flights, there are a number of domestic flights where people were at risk.
|Flight Number||Departure Date||Route|
|VA682||2 March 2020||Perth to Melbourne|
|VA1394||3 March 2020||Brisbane to Adelaide|
|VA811||3 March 2020||Melbourne to Sydney|
|VA800||4 March 2020||Sydney to Melbourne|
|VA7||4 March 2020||Brisbane to Los Angeles|
|VA2||5 March 2020||Los Angeles to Sydney|
|VA24||5 March 2020||Los Angeles to Melbourne|
|VA24||6 March 2020||Los Angeles to Melbourne|
|VA833||6 March 2020||Melbourne to Sydney|
|VA516||7 March 2020||Gold Coast to Sydney|
|VA535||8 March 2020||Sydney to Gold Coast|
|VA2||9 March 2020||Los Angeles to Sydney|
|VA418||10 March 2020||Sydney to Adelaide|
|VA480||13 March 2020||Maroochydore to Sydney|
We know that coronavirus is spread when an infected person comes into close contact with someone else. It is spread through droplets when someone coughs or sneezes, or by contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects.
Given it is so easily spread and the situation is fluid, it’s no doubt worthwhile to consider avoiding any environment where there are groups of people in close proximity and lots of surfaces that the virus can survive on. For me, that means airports are a “no go” zone. While the government is saying gatherings of over 500 people are off limits, it would no doubt be smart at this stage to reconsider all travel.
If you have the time, perhaps jump in the car – unless you’re trying to get from the mainland to Tasmania!