Is it safe to take public transport during a pandemic of coronavirus?
It depends on many factors, but there are ways to minimize the risk.
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The main way the virus spreads is through droplets that people squirt out when they talk, cough or sneeze. That means the best way to reduce the spread of an infectious disease on public transport and elsewhere is to wear a mask and stay about 6 feet away from others.
Referral systems around the world are requiring riders to wear masks and encourage people to create social distance. Compliance is likely to change, especially as passenger levels start to rise again and trains and buses become more crowded. However, you can take other steps to make the trips less risky.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends traveling during non-peak hours, avoiding crowded stations and stops, and skipping seats between seats when possible.
Surfaces are also believed to pose a risk, albeit to a lesser degree, and transport systems are using a variety of cleaning techniques. Moscow and Shanghai have been testing germicidal ultraviolet rays and Hong Kong has deployed a robot that sprayed hydrogen peroxide. In New York, subways will stop operating overnight to clean up.
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Even so, the CDC says to avoid touching surfaces like turnstiles and handrails if you can.
Although it is unclear how the virus and how it spreads, experts note that there hasn’t been any major outbreak involving the transport system.