Corona: There are no safe places on trains without a mask

Researchers from the University of Cambridge and Imperial College in London in England have developed a mathematical simulation that calculates the risk of infection in train carriages. The computer model was then confirmed by experiments in real train compartments. The study comes to the conclusion that masks offer the best protection against infection, but distances between passengers are less effective, especially if there are no ventilation systems on trains.

Risk of infection across wagons distributed practically equally

With the work published in the journal “Indoor Air”, the authors around Rick de Kreij confirm the results of several German research teams, including the German Centers for Aerospace and for Rail Transport Research. Of course, the risk of infection is always relative, depending on how many people are vaccinated on the train, how busy trains are and whether passengers wear masks, said de Kreij. But there is no really safe place on the train. The air circulation is lowest in the middle of a car and the risk of infection is highest there when an infected person is nearby. Since it is not known whether and, if so, which people in a wagon are infectious, the risk is practically evenly distributed throughout the wagon.

Mask requirement on the train most effective measure

British trains often have no ventilation systems because operators want to save money. There is practically no alternative to wearing masks. In Germany there is good ventilation, especially in long-distance traffic, but also in modern local trains, which theoretically completely exchange the air in wagons every seven minutes. But here, too, “the consistent wearing of a well-fitting FFP2 mask” proved to be the “most effective measure to minimize the exposure of passengers and staff,” according to the results of the German Center for Rail Transport Research.

Mask requirements on trains further extended

In Germany, various states and the federal government had extended the obligation to wear masks on trains. In view of the new Omikron variants BA.4 and BA.5 and an increasing number of new infections, these mask requirements should continue to offer the best protection against infection on a train journey.

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