Allowing airplanes to operate at 100 % capacity is reckless – EFF

Airlines were central to transportation and spread of COVID-19 across the world, say Fighters

EFF condemns Mbalula’s unscientific and reckless decision to allow airlines to operate at 100% capacity

29 June 2020

The EFF condemns Minister Mbalula's decision to allow Airlines to operate at 100% passenger capacity amidst rising numbers of COVID-19 in South Africa. Addressing the media today, the minister stated that his justification for this obviously reckless decision is based on the idea that all airlines are fitted with "high-efficiency particulate air filters" which, according to him, "are able to eat any form of virus, including coronavirus".

Nothing comes close to utter madness than this assertion. It is not only unscientific but also dangerous. Mbalula is electively conspiring for the mass infection of our people which will result in mass murder.

Airlines were central to the transportation and spread of COVID-19 across the world. If Mbalula's logic was true, COVID-19 would have never arrived in South Africa or any other country in the world.

The World Health Organisation identified one method of prevention from Covid-19 as "social distancing" because all respiratory illnesses are spread through the surfaces upon which the droplets of infected persons land like airplane seats. Unless sanitised, COVID-19 virus lasts long, even for hours. No amount of high-efficiency particulate air filters will protect people who are close to each other, travelling even for minutes to their destinations.

Social distancing, particularly in public transport is non-negotiable if we are to protect people's lives. If HEPA was an efficient killer of viruses, COVID-19 would never have left Wuhan.

All planes built after 1980 are fitted with HEPA. However, although the HEPA filter kills bacteria, fungi, and virus clumps, it does not protect against being sneezed on by a sick passenger or touching an infected tray table or seat surfaces.

"The World Health Organization defines contact with an infected person as being seated within two rows of one another. But people don't just sit during flights, particularly ones lasting longer than a few hours. They visit the bathroom, stretch their legs, and grab items from the overhead bins."

It was widely reported that "during the 2003 coronavirus outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), a passenger aboard a flight from Hong Kong to Beijing infected people well outside the WHO's two-row boundary. The New England Joumal of Medicine noted that the WHO criteria "would have missed 45 percent of the patients with SARS."

The HEPA does not help if there is no social distancing within the plane. Mbalula's decision goes against the WHO recommendations and will lead to the massive spread of COVID-19 in our country.

We, therefore, call on Ramaphosa to reverse this decision. It is based on pseudo-science, and obviously murderous. It can only be justified on the basis that the white monopoly controlled aviation industry seeks to make profits at the expense of people's lives.

This single decision encourages others within the transport sector like Taxis and buses to also operate at 100% capacity. It must be condemned and reversed to avoid loss of life.

Issued by Vuyani Pambo, National Spokesperson, EFF, 29 June 2020