Article Title

Flight-associated transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 corroborated by whole-genome sequencing

Abstract

To investigate potential transmission of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) during a domestic flight within Australia, we performed epidemiologic analyses with whole-genome sequencing. Eleven passengers with PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection and symptom onset within 48 hours of the flight were considered infectious during travel; 9 had recently disembarked from a cruise ship with a retrospectively identified SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. The virus strain of those on the cruise and the flight was linked (A2-RP) and had not been previously identified in Australia. For 11 passengers, none of whom had traveled on the cruise ship, PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 illness developed between 48 hours and 14 days after the flight. Eight cases were considered flight associated with the distinct SARS-CoV-2 A2-RP strain; the remaining 3 cases (1 with A2-RP) were possibly flight associated. All 11 passengers had been in the same cabin with symptomatic persons who had culture-positive A2-RP virus strain. This investigation provides evidence of flight-associated SARS-CoV-2 transmission.

Keywords

infectious diseases, potential transmission, air travel, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, Coronavirus 2, SARS-CoV-2, whole-genome sequencing

Link to Publisher Version (URL)

10.3201/EID2612.203910

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