India has been resuming flight operations and train and cab services in a regulated manner as the country gradually starts easing restrictions after a series of lockdowns to limit the spread of Covid-19.
Before flight services were resumed, concerns were raised about the risk of the novel coronavirus being transmitted through air. A study in China had suggested that A/C could help the transmission of the virus, citing the example of 10 Covid-19 patients from three families who picked up the infection by eating at neighbouring tables in a restaurant.
The Indian Railways’ decision to run fully air-conditioned trains last month was also questioned by health experts. There is greater risk of virus transmission in closed facilities, TheNews Minute quoted experts as saying.
The Railways had then dismissed the concerns, saying that travelling in AC coaches poses no risk of coronavirus transmission. Railways officials also said in a statement that as per the Ministry of Health’s guidelines, centralised AC is acceptable if complete air change inside an AC coach takes place at least 12 times per hour.
“The Roof Mounted AC Package Unit (RMPU) system of Indian Railways AC coaches is designed to have a higher air replacement rate and we are ensuring that our system replaces air more than 12 times per hour as per these guidelines,” the officials had added, according to India Today.
Railways began operating 200 special trains across the country from Monday. In a press release, it said the services will be in addition to the existing Shramik Special trains and Special AC trains. These are fully reserved trains having both AC and non-AC classes, it added.
With more Indians beginning to travel now, HuffPost India spoke to two air quality experts on how effective the government’s strategy of air replacement in trains is and how safe it is to travel in an AC cab even when you wear masks and try to practise social distancing.