59 CASES of Covid-19 in Ireland have been linked to a single flight which arrived into the country during the summer.
European scientific journal Eurosurveillance, in cooperation with the HSE, have released a report detailing how one 7.5 hour flight from the Middle East into Ireland led to 59 infections.
Just 49 seats out of 283 were occupied during the flight, but despite this, 13 people on board later tested positive for the virus-- however it is understood that some of those on board were travelling together in groups.
The report states that two passengers began experiencing symptoms 48 hours after arriving in Ireland, and were subsequently diagnosed with the disease.
Contact tracing later led to a further 11 passengers on the same flight also testing positive.
The report says the case study indicates how in-flight transmission can occur, and because 13 people on the same flight were diagnosed, it is not known which passenger was "the source case".
Most passengers were wearing masks during the flight, and 15 of those tested were found not to be carrying the virus; one person refused to be tested and 11 others were unable to be contacted.
Worryingly, some of the 13 positive passengers subsequently infected a further 46 people in Ireland, with one person passing it on to 25 people as they were staying in "shared accommodation".
Four were later hospitalised and one was admitted to ICU.
Eurosurveillance said the study indicates that air travel has "accelerated the global pandemic", but added "rapid contact tracing can limit onward spread".
Rapid testing and tracing was not in use in this situation however, with the report stating contact tracing was "deficient".
"In this outbreak, 11 flight passengers could not be contacted and were consequently not tested" the report states, which could have contributed to cases of community transmission not linked back to the flight.
Following the outbreak, Eurosurveillance say the Government put further emphasis on the 14-day quarantine which is mandatory, but not enforced, when arriving into Ireland from abroad.