Warning that prolonged air journeys could expose the passengers to risk of contacting disease like tuberculosis from infected co-travellers, the United Nations health agency has issued fresh guidelines to minimise the risk.
Those infected with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis must postpone any long distance air travel, the World Health Organization (WHO) suggested.
Till now, no case of active TB has been identified due to exposure on a commercial aircraft, where the quality of air is high and under normal conditions cleaner than in most buildings, WHO said.
But it said prolonged journeys of more than eight hours in a confined cabin may involve an increased risk of transmission, similar to other circumstances where people are together in confined places.
The guidelines also advise that aircraft ventilation systems should continue to operate when the aircraft is delayed on the ground and the doors closed. If not in operation, ground delays should be kept to less than 30 minutes, WHO said.
The International Air Transport Association and its partners, including WHO, are actively looking at ways to improve the accuracy and availability of passenger information.
As an interim measure, a locator card has been developed. If there is a suspected case of a communicable disease of international importance on board, the passengers would be asked to record their name, seat number and emergency contact information in the card.