Although there have been several case reports and simulation models of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission associated with air travel, there are limited data to guide testing strategy to minimize the risk of SARS-CoV-2 exposure and transmission onboard commercial aircraft. Among 9853 passengers with a negative SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction test performed within 72 hours of departure from December 2020 through May 2021, five (0.05%) passengers with active SARS-CoV-2 infection were identified with rapid antigen tests and confirmed with rapid molecular test performed before and after an international flight from the United States to Italy. This translates to a case detection rate of 1 per 1970 travelers during a time of high prevalence of active infection in the United States. A negative molecular test for SARS-CoV-2 within 72 hours of international airline departure results in a low probability of active infection identified on antigen testing during commercial airline flight.
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