Take a turn and not get infected: will there be anticovid protection for public transport

Take a turn and not get infected: will there be anticovid protection for public transport
Take a turn and not get infected: will there be anticovid protection for public transport
16 June 2021, 10:16TechnologyPhoto: vk.com
The jump in the incidence of coronavirus in Russia makes experts think about what other measures, in addition to vaccination, are effective in the fight against COVID-19. Obviously, public transport remains a problem.

Since the beginning of the epidemic, sanitary rules for air disinfection during public transport have not been approved.

Yulia Suntsova

On the eve of the holidays in honor of the Day of Russia, the number of people infected with coronavirus in Moscow increased by 4124 cases, having updated the maximum since January 16, the headquarters reports.

Rosstat, at the same time, revised the data on mortality from COVID-19 and reported that 144.7 thousand Russians died from coronavirus in 2020 alone, and not 104.8 thousand, as previously reported. The authorities are again announcing a lockdown and introducing measures that, in their opinion, will be salvation. Due to the rise in the incidence of diseases, it was decided to strengthen control over the wearing of masks and gloves in shopping centers, cafes and restaurants, sports clubs. But how effective are the listed methods?

Double standards in the fight against covid

Theses have already been written about the absurd "kung fu" with the Chinese virus in Russia. Jokes were the bans of disposable cups from gyms, the shutdown of wi-fi in shopping centers, daily washing of stops with chlorine, the blocking of privileges for pensioners for travel on the subway, QR codes in nightclubs and MacDonalds, restrictions on the presence in courts, "sanitary cases" for participation in meetings and single pickets. All - within the framework of the fight against covid.

Boring inconsistencies with public transport are rarely remembered, but ... in order to move towards victory over SARS-CoV-2, you must, among other things, honestly answer a simple question.

What is the risk of getting infected on a bus, tram, trolleybus, train, train, plane? Scientists, epidemiologists agree that the likelihood of catching coronavirus in transport is much higher than in other public spaces.

“I am sure that public transport accounts for perhaps the largest share of people infected with respiratory infections, including the new SARS-CoV-2. The reason is in an extremely confined space and close contact between people. In addition, passengers neglect the recommendation to wear a mask throughout the entire journey, remove it, especially on long-distance routes. All this brings the risks of infection closer to the maximum", - says the doctor-disinfectologist Nikolai Dubinin. - Against the background of strict control over other premises - catering, retail space and spaces for services, the absence of mandatory requirements for transport looks like a flaw, half measures, not a conspiracy. The problem of the spread of coronavirus in transport is really acute".

The increased risk in transport is obvious. Passengers travel for a long time in a confined space, often in the literal sense of the word in close contact with each other. At the end of the route, the train of the carriage or cabin quickly leaves in one place, and immediately a new train enters, which also uses the same surfaces that other passengers had used for a long time. Disinfection and disinfection at the beginning of the shift generally make no sense.

The statistics of infections in transport in Russia is zero, if someone bothered with these calculations, then he is in no hurry to present it to the public.

Rospotrebnadzor, in its recommendations "On disinfection of indoor air" No. 02 / 21655-2020-32 dated October 21, 2020, discusses shopping facilities, children's playrooms, classrooms, domestic premises, industrial and public buildings (rest rooms, meals) as places with a large concentration of people and, therefore, an increased risk of infection. But again, we do not see or hear anything about "microbial contamination of the air" and "a set of measures aimed at breaking the mechanism of transmission of infection" in relation to public transport. Everything is presented as if public transport is such a magical place inside the salt circle. But this is clearly not the case.


In stationary retail outlets, it would seem that the requirements for air disinfection are just legalized, sanitary inspectors do not spare paper on the protocols. But, despite the controllability of this segment, recirculators and air disinfectants are encountered here every other time. Public oversight records: in Pyaterochka there are such segments, in Magnets - far from everywhere. Such legal dualism cannot but raise questions.

Why is the sensitive gaze of the state blurred here and why, after a year and a half since the beginning of the epidemic, do we still have such vagueness in law enforcement?

"Readiness number one" remained on paper. Why were Russian industrialists suckered?

It would be fair to say that the Russian government initially developed sound measures to combat the coronavirus. Rostec Corporation boasted of its own devices, GAZ prepared samples of the antibacterial Gazelle City. Russian industrialists also talked about a "low start". Many factories, encouraged by officials, received loans and invested heavily in production lines for mass production, were brutally thrown and are now teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

"The Russian industry relatively quickly switched to sanitary rails - the officials themselves asked us to start producing disinfecting devices, they even urged us on. They promised long demand, government contracts and permanent employment for employees. Configured that now this [release of disinfecting devices] will be the norm. The governor, the government, the Ministry of Industry and Trade were talking about this - they said that they would load the domestic industry, that it was necessary to do without imports. Even the tenders included mandatory requirements for suppliers: only domestic production. We have launched the production of germicidal ultraviolet recirculators. Many of my brothers, unfortunately, did not even have time to pay off loans for capacities, which are now not really needed. For businesses, this is a complete collapse. They were left face to face with overproduction”, - says Arkady Voloshin, director of the REMO Saratov Electromechanical Plant.

The go-ahead from Rospotrebnadzor never happened. Mandatory sanitary and epidemiological requirements for transport have not been issued.

Although it would seem that this is the real, not cheap, import substitution in action, here it is a reboot of the Russian industry and new jobs, about which they like to talk so much from the high rostrum. In the case of air disinfection in closed rooms and in transport, the situation is unique - the Russian industry really easily covers all demand on its own, without any imports at all, the industrialists specify.


At what point did this antipatriotic reversal suddenly take place? Perhaps, the lobby of transport workers, who in armchair conversations, inserted phrases about "tens of millions of Russian citizens" behind their backs, or heads of municipalities who needed to find additional funds for vehicle fleets, outweighed them.

But in the same budgetary kindergartens, schools, clinics, additional equipment for bactericidal equipment is ongoing. The leaders and founders, represented by the state, came to the understanding that this equipment was necessary, and found funds for the so-called extra-state purchases.

There is one little thing left - the political will

Against the background of clearly formulated requirements for business, public transport remains an absolute blank spot, despite full or partial state control.

Electric transport in cities is usually municipal; buses and minibuses - in some regions they are on the balance sheet of joint-stock companies with state participation, in others they are transferred to the management of private companies, but one way or another, the customer of all transportation remains the state, represented by local and regional authorities. This means that the government distributes all traffic volumes and is in charge of all routes, and it is in its power to monitor the implementation of sanitary regulations by vehicle owners. An effective measure, which does not imply any additional efforts and costs, could be, for example, the inclusion in the tender conditions of the requirement for the winner to equip each unit of the rolling stock with equipment for air disinfection.

Like many other industries related to public services, transport workers are not easy today. But it is unlikely that equipping rolling stock with disinfectants, which cost no more than 5-10 thousand rubles, will greatly undermine their economic power. The costs are quite affordable, one-time and should not affect tariffs. The authorities, in turn, will never agree to stop the carrier's flights due to one or more sanitary violations, as this will lead to a collapse. Public transportation in Russia did not stop even during the war, it also worked during the recent lockdown, experts comment.

Taxis are another invisible hotspot for the spread of the virus

Taxis remain another "invisible" zone. From an epidemiological point of view, taxis are also a high-risk place. Firstly, the driver is in close contact with many different people every day, which means that he is more at risk than others to become a carrier of the virus himself. Secondly, the compressed, enclosed space of the passenger compartment, the prolonged presence of people in this "capsule" with closed windows and doors multiplies the risk of passenger infection, and passengers immediately receive large "doses".

Disinfection of air is more important than anywhere else and more effective than anywhere else. It is possible to ensure maximum sanitary safety in a taxi by installing only one device, and, unlike a mask, it does not declaratively, but actually reduces the likelihood of infection by hundreds of times. Taxis are a private business, and in order to preserve the life and health of passengers, they must follow the regulations along with public transport. This is precisely why clear rules have been developed in relation to taxi companies: licensing, certification, exams when hiring drivers, etiquette when communicating with clients, etc. I would like to believe that for the owners of taxi companies, the client's health is no less important than the car washed before the start of the shift or polite communication.

Oxford University has revolutionized the spread of coronavirus

On April 15, the authoritative medical journal "The Lancet" in its article reported on a new study by a group of British physician and epidemiologist, Professor Karl Henegan. The conclusions of scientists can be called sensational - they turned upside down the previous ideas about the spread of SARS-CoV-2. The Center for Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, headed by the professor, hypothesized that the main method of transmission of coronavirus is not airborne, not contact, but aerosol. What follows from this? The role of masks and gloves is minimized; washing streets, doors, walls, and other contact surfaces is considered practically useless. For closed rooms, including for public transport, air disinfection comes to the fore in terms of efficiency.

Last year, an initiative group of business owners sent about 80 requests to the Ministry of Transport of the regions and the Chief Sanitary Doctor of Russia - Head of Rospotrebnadzor Anna Popova on this sensitive topic, but did not receive any intelligible answers.

Rospotrebnadzor took a wait and see attitude

The ministry's opinion today is: yes, air disinfection in public transport is important, but let the regions themselves somehow cope with this task.

There are some examples when regions, even without federal support, issue an appropriate regulatory framework. Local leaders understand that installing ultraviolet air handling units is not a "one-off". Even if “covid is not for long,” as they say from television screens, no one has canceled the seasonal increases in the incidence of influenza and other respiratory infections. The use of recirculators based on ultraviolet lamps is not only a real opportunity to reduce the risks of the spread of coronavirus and minimize economic costs, but also one shot at two birds with one stone, a game for a long time.

"Pilot" in Ulyanovsk for the disinfection of public transport was successful

So, in the Ulyanovsk region, for example, Governor Sergey Morozov, back in November last year, amended the decree "On the introduction of a high alert regime and the establishment of mandatory rules of conduct for citizens and organizations when introducing a high alert regime." Some of the requirements introduce additional measures in passenger transport.

According to the amendments, organizations and individual entrepreneurs providing services for the transportation of passengers and baggage are ordered to install bactericidal air recirculators in the salons of urban ground electric and road transport. Part of the costs of transport workers are compensated for by subsidies from the regional budget.


"Recirculators are installed not only in the salons of buses, trams, but also at transport infrastructure facilities - bus stations, bus stations, in the airport building. We held a meeting with representatives of the traffic police, Rospotrebnadzor and the taxi industry. At the same time, it is necessary to strictly observe the established requirements for disinfection, use personal protective equipment ", - said the Minister of Transport of the Ulyanovsk region Yevgeny Lazarev.

To ensure compliance with sanitary rules in public transport, the region has found funds for photo and video recording systems. When detecting violations of traffic management, the Regional Center draws up a protocol and submits it to court proceedings.

But the Ulyanovsk region and similar decrees of governors are an exception.

The reaction of transport organizations is, of course, expected: until the requirements for equipping vehicles are transferred to the status of a legislative norm, it is impossible to oblige carriers to bear the costs and install bactericidal devices in the cabins. The main goal of carriers is profit, and where possible, they will minimize costs.

Caring for the well-being and health of people is the task, first of all, of the authorities. And the truth is that in the fight against coronavirus, transport remains a "bad place" in Russia today, and inactive means every day deliberately endangering the lives of tens of millions of Russians. If we are really aimed at making the pandemic a part of history, measures, apparently, need qualitatively different ones, and it would not be superfluous to reconsider the attitude towards transport.

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