7 Things Not to Do on a Plane Amid Omicron, Experts Warn
Experts reveal that there are specific rules you need to follow with the latest Covid variant.
It's no surprise that with COVID, flight protocols have changed. Wearing masks has become mandatory for travel to ensure everyone's safety during this uneasy time and you may need proof of vaccination or a negative test if you're flying abroad. But like the novel coronavirus itself, the rules and regulations surrounding COVID have continued to evolve. With the Omicron variant surge this winter, there are some particular dos and don'ts to keep in mind if you're trying to avoid the infectious disease while flying. Read on to learn the seven things you should not do on a plane amid Omicron.
Don't wear any mask but an N95.
A surgical or cloth mask just isn't enough anymore. "N95 masks are designed to create an effective seal on your face and filter out 95 percent of potential contaminants including the COVID-19 virus whereas surgical masks and cloth masks have a lower effectiveness rate of filtering out airborne viruses," says Brynna Connor, MD, healthcare ambassador at NorthWestPharmacy.com. That said, if you can't get an N95, a KN95 mask is also a solid option.
Don't take your mask off.
Depending on the length of your trip, this one can be a challenge. But Dr. Connor advises not to remove your mask during your flight if you can help it. "Eat and drink before you get on the plane so that you will be more likely to be able to keep your mask on throughout the flight," she says.
Don't stress yourself out.
For some, flying can be challenging all on its own. With the addition of a pandemic, it's understandable if your anxiety is through the roof. While it may be easier said than done, Dr. Connor's advice is simple: Try to remain calm. "Stress is a major factor in hindering our immune system's ability to protect us from getting sick so staying calm is a very important puzzle piece in helping you stay healthy," she says. "Know that you're doing all you can to stay safe and let that serve as reassurance." We recommend some nice, deep breaths, meditation, or reading to put yourself at ease.
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Avoid junk food.
You can help protect your body before your trip just by eating the right foods. "Prebiotic superfoods help good gut bacteria grow therefore helping your immune system function properly," says Dr. Connor. Those foods include oats, barley, asparagus, artichokes, onions, garlic, bananas, beans, and honey.
Don't turn off the vent.
Let's face it: When you're on a flight for hours, you want to be as comfortable as possible, and in a chilly cabin, you might be tempted to turn off the vent. With COVID, however, it's best to err on the side of caution and leave it on. "Keep the air circulating around your seat," says Leann Poston MD and medical advisor for Impakt Fitness. After all, ventilation has been key to reducing "the exposure of occupants to airborne infectious particles," according to the CDC.
Don't forget hand sanitizer.
Yes, we know it might sound redundant at this point, but it bears repeating: You need to keep your hands clean. That means having hand sanitizer on you at all times. "One should never travel without alcohol-based hand sanitizer and at the appropriate dilution (at a 70 to 90 percent concentration) and disinfectant wipes," says Erica Susky, Infection Control Practitioner (ICP). "The sanitizer will come in handy if one needs to adjust their mask or if they touch common surfaces in the transport vehicle."
Don't touch the front of your mask.
Whether or not you're wearing a mask, it can be hard not to touch your face at some point. But with COVID, it's more important than ever that you just don't do it. "People should never touch the front of their mask unless one's hands are washed immediately," says Susky. Because "hands are a mode of transmission for viruses directly to the portals entry viruses use (the mouth, eyes, and nose)," people risk contaminating themselves.