Social distancing of 2 meters not enough; Covid-19 virus can travel up to 7-8 meters: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on August 29, 2020

Khammam, Telangana, 25/08/2020: People waiting to be tested for Covid at the District headquarters hospital in Khammam   -  THE HINDU

Higher momentum is created while singing, coughing, sneezing; these actions move respiratory droplets faster than if exhaled normally

Research published in the weekly peer-reviewed medical journal BMJ, has suggested that the basic rule of maintaining a six-feet distance (two meters) from each other in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus may not work.

Researchers at Oxford University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have said that the respiratory droplets containing SARS-CoV-2 can travel up to 26 feet in just a few seconds after an infected person coughs, sneezes, or sings.

Earlier studies, that became the base for this protocol, suggested that the respiratory droplets travel up to one to two meters, while the lighter droplets staying closer to the infected person.

However, when the droplets are exhaled with a blow like action, such as coughing or sneezing, the small droplets are found to travel beyond two meters in the air, while the large droplets spread to an even larger distance.

The Oxford scientists noticed that the cloud of air with high momentum — higher momentum is created while singing, coughing, and sneezing — moves the respiratory droplets faster than the ones that are exhaled with normal ventilation.

The scientists said that these respiratory droplets had a range of spreading up to seven to eight meters (equivalent to 26 feet) within a few seconds.

The researchers of the study now advise health administrations to revise the norms on social distancing, keeping factors like the environment and ventilation in mind, to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Published on August 29, 2020

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