Fifth coronavirus infection tied to Dutch Olympic team; Four on one flight
The Dutch Olympic Team announced on Saturday that a fifth member of its delegation to the Olympic Games in Tokyo has tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus. Four of the five were on one flight together, and three people are involved with the rowing competition.
Rowing coach Josy Verdonkschot was the latest person to test positive, but he took the news in stride. “The loss of a coach has no influence at the moment. My confidence in my staff and my athletes is endless. They will get the job done,” he said in a statement.
Verdonkschot entered quarantine after he was diagnosed with the infection. A source and contact investigation was underway, and the remaining members of the rowing team can continue to participate in the Olympics if they continue to test negative for the viral infection.
Street skateboard competitor Candy Jacobs was the first on the team to test positive in Japan, and was forced to miss the heats and finals in her event. Taekwondo athlete Reshmie Oogink was next to test positive, as was rower Finn Florijn.
All three of them were on the same KLM flight that took them to Tokyo, along with another rowing team staff member who also tested positive for the infection. NOS presenter Jeroen Elshoff was also on the flight, and he too was diagnosed with the coronavirus infection and forced into quarantine.
The 11-hour flight was identified by NOS as KL861 from Amsterdam to Tokyo. “During the flight, the air in our aircraft is constantly refreshed with fresh air drawn in from outside,” KLM said according to the broadcaster. The airline uses HEPA filters to eliminate 99.99 percent of bacteria and viruses from the air.
Aerospace engineer Joris Melkert from TU Delft said, “On average, the air is refreshed every two to three minutes, and a portion is recirculated. But of course, you are all together. If your neighbor is sneezing or coughing without a face mask, that will make its way towards you.”
Airplane passengers are unlikely to catch the coronavirus infection when sitting more than three rows away from an infected person, According to a recent study from the Netherlands Aerospace Center (NLR) and public health agency RIVM. "If this person does sit in the cabin, fellow passengers sitting in seven rows surrounding the infectious passenger are at relatively low risk of COVID-19 on average. [The risk] is lower than in, for example, unventilated rooms of the same size," the study concluded.