Daily laps of all major developments in the outbreak of the Covid-19 Delta as New Zealand entered its fifth blockade. Video / Mark Mitchell / Brett Phibbs
The Covid-19 pandemic revealed that respiratory viruses can move through space much easier than originally thought. This is a long-overlooked risk that international scientists need to rethink current social distance measurements.
Prior to the global coronavirus crisis, the main way these viruses spread was thought to be through large droplets of sneezing or coughing, or through touch-contaminated surfaces.
Now, a new review published in the journal Science points out that these two vectors alone cannot explain how effectively the coronavirus spread.
Instead, the international author turned to aerosol, a mode that was slow to be recognized by global health authorities.
Aerosolized particles, like droplets, were breathed or coughed by an infected person.
However, not only were they small (mostly only 1 micrometer, whereas droplets were generally considered to be larger than 5 micrometers), they remained in the air and at far distances. Could infect people who are.
The exact way it traveled depends on the combination of factors such as temperature, ventilation, airflow, and relative humidity, but it can accumulate in poorly ventilated areas and be inhaled “both short and long distances”. There is sex.
And when particles containing the virus are inhaled by others, they can deposit in different parts of the respiratory tract and cause infection.
“Given everything we have learned about SARS-CoV-2 infection, the aerosol transmission route needs to be reassessed for all respiratory infections,” the author said.
They recommended the use of masks and greater physical distance, as well as additional protective measures such as ventilation and filtration of the indoor environment.
Dr. Joel Lindelaub, an aerosol chemist at the University of Auckland, confirmed in May this year that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admitted that aerosols, which were once largely ignored, were the main transmission route. He said it wasn’t until.
It was almost a year after a group of more than 230 scientists reached the same conclusion.
“Thanks to the urgency promoted by Covid-19, scientists have learned valuable information about the transmission of respiratory viruses-the in-depth virus transmission here in New Zealand, including events at airplanes and MIQ facilities. The investigation is not a little credible. “
During regular wipes at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Christchurch last September, the virus appeared to have passed airborne aerosol particles in less than 50 seconds.
Similar cases of the virus moving from one room to another in seconds were also observed at this month’s Jet Park Quarantine Facility. It was also observed at Crowne Plaza MIQ in Auckland.
“We know that aerosol transmission happens very often, so it would be surprising if it didn’t happen in this outbreak,” said Dr. Jema Geogegan, a virologist at the University of Otago.
Scientists knew that the smallest aerosol particles (the particles that traveled the farthest) were rich in viruses, so Linderaub said that the current recommendations for distances of 1 or 2 meters are Covid-19. He said it was not enough, and never enough, to guarantee protection against infection. “.
“This is especially relevant for indoor areas where ventilation and airflow are reduced compared to outdoor settings.”
He said it may not be easy to recommend a universal distance protocol, as many countries have, because aerosols can travel a wide range of distances.
“That said, a physical distance of at least 2 meters and a focus on ventilation, airflow, air filtration, UV disinfection, and mask fit can prevent Covid-19 infections.”
Leah Grout, a researcher at the University of Otago’s School of Public Health, said ventilation issues have not yet been adequately addressed in New Zealand.
“This is an important consideration for controlling the Covid-19 pandemic and preventing future respiratory illnesses.
“Some of the ways to improve ventilation, such as opening windows, are very simple and may have benefits beyond the prevention of disease transmission. Studies show that improving indoor air quality is a worker’s production. It has the potential to increase sex and improve learning at school. “
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