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The risk of coronavirus spreading on public transport has remained substantially low through the pandemic, several international studies have shown.

Safety measures imposed on public transport around the world since COVID-19 hit have made them “the safest places on earth”, Dr Julian Tang, a professor of respiratory sciences at Leicester University, told Sky News.

He said if people took the same precautions in other high-risk areas such as crowded streets and pubs, the number of cases would reduce there.

The latest data from France shows only 1.2% of the country’s 2,830 coronavirus clusters – three or more cases from one place or event in seven days – recorded between 1 May and 28 September occurred on any type of transport (planes, boats and trains).

Two-thirds of them were recorded as being transmitted at businesses, school and university environments, public and private events and health centres.

Hong Kong, one of the most densely populated places in the world and where public transport is heavily relied on, has recorded an overall infection rate of 68 cases per 100,000, far less than Western countries such as the US which has 2,198 per 100,000 and Spain which has 1,602.

Dr Tang said: “In Asia, there was already a culture of being very vigilant on public transport, so they were using masks in Singapore and Hong Kong as soon as they learned of the virus.”

In Japan, the strategy to contain the virus did not rely on mass testing or national lockdowns, but on urging people to stay away from the “three Cs” – closed spaces, crowds and close-contact settings in which people are talking face-to-face.

Japan’s approach was based on finding the places with the most outbreaks and determining their common characteristics, Science Magazine reported.

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