Coronavirus: How far can COVID spread indoors? Scientists decode using an experiment

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There is no place too safe from COVID. Newer studies have said that the likelihood of indoor spread for COVID-19 is also on the higher side, because of aerosol transmission. The bigger danger exists if you are in contact with a superspreader around you, i.e. the ones who carry the grave risk of transmitting the disease onto others on a large scale. In fact, the presence of superspreaders may also be the reason why India is seeing such huge COVID spikes.

How can you stay safe?

While superspreaders carry the biggest risk of all, it can be impossible to actually determine who is the superspreader near you; the only real thing you can do is to mitigate the risk of infection, especially indoors.

One of the ways to ensure safety while staying indoors would be to pay attention to the place you are sitting at i.e. the distance you are maintaining, according to scientists.

In a study conducted by a US-based engineer, Suresh Dhaniyala, the risk factor for COVID transmission lies in how far aerosols can spread, especially in a confined environment.

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Why aerosol transmission is so crucial?

It is evident that COVID-19 can not just spread through direct contact, but also through aerosols transmitted through the air, which can not just travel for longer distances, but also stay suspended in a given environment for a longer time.

The only real way to actually negate the risk of aerosol transmission is to have access to proper ventilation channels. Consequently, damp, unventilated areas can act as the medium for viruses, including the novel coronavirus to spread.

Hence, more than avoiding contact altogether, one of the prime reasons why some people escape direct transmission risk, despite being in contact with an infected person is the distance they may be maintaining.

Ventilation is a crucial aspect to cut down the viral risk

Scientists have repeatedly asserted that ventilation and natural sunlight may decrease the power of the SARS-COV-2 virus, much like other viruses in circulation to attack you.

It is for the same reason that dull, enclosed rooms are more prone to act as viral spreaders than the ones with uniform ventilation and adequate natural air supply. To showcase the same, scientists involved in the study conducted an aerosol experiment

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For the same, scientists introduced aerosols similar in size to those spread by humans in a classroom environment, meant to accommodate upto 30 students. The scientists installed sensors in the classroom to map out how far the aerosols in question could travel.

Virus can linger in the air for a long time

It was observed that aerosols spread from the front of the classroom were able to reach the back of the room within 10-15 minutes of transmission. However, because of the active ventilation present in the environment, the transmission was 1/10th that of the source. The highest risk of catching COVID-19, in a closed environment, is for those who are sitting within the close vicinity of an infected person, and transmission risk may cut down for those sitting far off, provided good ventilation is present.

However, it should be noted that the model only applies in a limited setting. If the exposure to an infected carrier increases, so does the infection risk, regardless of good ventilation.

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How to have cleaner air in the room

Social distancing is yet again an important aspect to maintain clean air supply through the room. Even if a source room has good ventilation channels, as long as the air is evenly distributed and recycled, that’s the only way to ensure good ventilation. Limiting the presence of people in a given room to the bare minimum can help ensure that. Apart from this, mask-wearing, using face shields, sanitization is important too.

What are the places you can avoid?

COVID-risk can exist both indoors and outdoors, but the risk can be low in some places, and higher in some other places. However, as a rule, do remember that corners of a room, dim spaces and areas near air vents are more probable for viral transmission than others since viruses have higher chances of lingering there than normal.

Source: timesofindia.com

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