The number of people who have acquired Covid-19 while flying is not fully established. There have been several published reports and the rate quoted overall is one in 27 million. It’s hard to know if the disease is acquired during arrival or departure procedures, queuing in crowded spaces, or on the plane. Viral genomic (RNA) analysis can help to determine who got Covid from whom.

Cape Town International Airport (CTIA) is dead quiet as South Africa enters the third wave. The engine of one of the world’s great tourist destinations, it has fallen victim to the Covid-19 pandemic. My first flight in over a year is from CTIA to my birthplace, Harare, a dusty and damaged city. A melancholy trip in a melancholy time.

International air travel has resumed, at low levels, and all passengers must show a negative Covid test, but many are wary. Is it safe to be in a “tin can” 30,000 feet up for several hours, with dozens of other passengers in close proximity, breathing the same air? Airlines claim it is. One reason is that modern passenger jets are equipped with systems that circulate the air through filters multiple times per hour.

To enter CTIA…

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