Airports, train stations… Modeling to detect areas of virus contamination

Yasmina Kattou

In France, researchers are working on tools to better deal with future epidemics. Last example, a mathematical model making it possible to identify the places most at risk of contamination in airports or stations. Contrary to what one might think, it is not necessarily in the most densely frequented spaces that we become contaminated the most.

What if we could identify the areas where virus contamination was the most numerous? Thanks to a mathematical model, Inserm researchers have succeeded in identifying the places most at risk of contamination, and thus limit the transmission of infectious diseases in airports and train stations.

More likely to be contaminated in a restaurant than in the queue

At the airport, it is by having a coffee while waiting for your flight that you are more at risk of contamination with Covid-19 or the flu than in the queue to board. “These spaces are restaurants, bars, shops where individuals spend a lot of time in contact with each other and in particular, they spend a lot more time with airport workers”, explains doctor Mattia Mazzoli, researcher at INSERM.

Airport agents can, for example, transmit the virus to subsequent travellers. Mattia Mazzoli therefore recommends targeting these areas at high risk of transmission with air filtration systems or virucidal UV lamps.

Generally, airport duty-free and cafeterias represent only 2% of the total area. An inexpensive investment that would halve flu contamination. It might also work for other viruses. The researcher hopes that the model will one day be adopted by health authorities.

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