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New COVID-19 variants linger in air, social distancing not enough: Study

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date
New COVID-19 variants linger in air, social distancing not enough: Study

New Delhi: As India battles the second deadly wave of Coronavirus with unprecedented rise in infections, a new study suggests that the new variants of Covid-19 has Airborne transmission and that maintaining two-metres with your co-workers, co-passengers may not be enough to cut the risk of contracting it indoors.

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Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, in the US, stated that the two-metre rule was originally developed when the prevailing belief was that Covid-19 transmission occurred solely through heavier droplets projected from the mouth and nose during speech, coughing, and sneezing, CTVnews.ca reported.

“The importance of airborne transmission of Covid-19 is now widely recognised,” researchers, including Martin Z Bazant, from the varsity’s Department of Chemical Engineering, were quoted as saying.

The study, published in the journal ‘PNAS’, showed that the amount of time that it is safe to spend in an indoor space depends on a number of factors, such as face-mask usage, the size of the space and the amount of ventilation, the report said.

“To minimise risk of infection, one should avoid spending extended periods in highly populated areas,” the researchers stated.

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“One is safer in rooms with large volume and high ventilation rates. One is at greater risk in rooms where people are exerting themselves in such a way as to increase their respiration rate and pathogen output, for example, by exercising, singing, or shouting,” they added.

The team developed a theoretical model based on airborne transmission that offers an understanding of how long can an uninfected person be safe in an indoor location with an infected person.

They also looked at how different respiratory activities, such as singing, speaking, and breathing, contributed to the overall amount of exhaled particles, and thus the potential amount of pathogens expelled.

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