PPRuNe Forums - View Single Post - Tracking of passenger's previous flights re. 2019-nCoV
Old 28th Jan 2020, 13:21
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Ian W
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: Florida and wherever my laptop is
Posts: 1,349
Originally Posted by Sriajuda View Post
In light of the coronavirus crisis, what technical means exist to track where a person disembarking had traveled previously?

Not just immediately preceding (connecting) flights, but flights taken within maybe the previous 2 weeks?

Is tracking information from the use of smartphones available outside of NSA/CIA, etc?

And if such information is available, is it being used to screen potential carriers of the virus?


George (slf)
The information is available but you are looking at an incomplete set of contacts.
  • Pax infected 5 days ago - now infectious and is shedding virus but is currently asymptomatic - had left Wuhan and made way to Chengdu, Flies on widebody from Chengdu with 240 other pax
  • Arrives SFO and joins crowds in immigration hall and is in a weaving line past perhaps 500 other pax from various other aircraft hands passport to immigration then hands customs form to customs
  • Wends way through SFO having collected bags and makes way through crowd to packed airline lounge.
  • Wends way through SFO to departure gate for next flight and joins line at gate for flight to DIA
  • Flies DIA - ATL in narrow body making a few bathroom trips up and down aircraft and waiting in line for lav to be available
  • Arrives ATL and joins crowds in concourse and goes to crowded airline lounge waiting for 2 hours for flight to MIA
  • Flies ATL - MIA for conference leaves crowded MIA and goes by bus to hire car then to conference resort hotel for 'meet and greet' with 1000 conference attendees
  • After 2 days in conference flies MIA - ATL - LGA same crowded concourses and goes home
  • Next day wakes up with what could be a cold.....

Yes you can possibly trace the flights - but how many did our notional 'patient zero' actually manage to pass the infection to- not only on the flights? How many did they manage to pass the infection to 2 days after they were infected until they realized they were sick? Imagine a couple of immigration border protection officers that are infective handling hundreds of passports a day and giving them back.
This is the reason for the world being a little on edge. The spread of a modern equivalent to the 1918 'Spanish Flu' would be infinitely faster and further. A lot depends on how infectious the disease is, some diseases need less than 10 infectious particles others require thousands.

Now you know the reason for the panic
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