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Covid-19 infections ‘highly correlated’ with extent of air travel

Steve Parsons

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

The spread of coronavirus cases is “highly correlated” with the extent of air travel, according to a report.

A study by the Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP) named the UK as an example of where a large number of domestic and international flights “facilitated contagion”.

The Global Peace Index report said “the flow of air passengers across and within country borders has been a major contributor to the spread of the virus”.

Serge Stroobants, an IEP director, told the PA news agency: “The countries most impacted are countries that are really participating in global trade in the globalised world and the interconnected world.

“These are countries in which you will find a large airport hub, giving the potential to people to travel from one country to the other.

“That’s why, for example, the region of Milan in Italy, Paris, Brussels, Frankfurt, London and New York, those big international hubs created more exchanges and more potential for the virus to grow.”

The UK Government’s policies on air travel during the pandemic have been controversial.

Flights have been unrestricted and international arrivals have only been required to enter a 14-day quarantine since Monday.

When there was still a small number of coronavirus cases in the UK, there were calls for restrictions on flights from destinations deemed at high risk of the virus.

The Government insisted at the time there was no evidence that closing borders would be an effective measure.