How far do COVID-19 particles travel from people who are infected?

Many governments have recommended social distancing guidelines of 6 feet (about 2 meters). A study using surface and air samples obtained in February and early March 2020 “from an intensive care unit (ICU) and a general COVID-19 ward [GW] at Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan, China” came to a different conclusion–a maximum transmission distance of about 13 feet.

The main transmission routes for SARS-CoV-2 [COVID-19] are respiratory droplets and close contact. Knowing the extent of environmental contamination of SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 wards is critical for improving safety practices for medical staff and answering questions about SARS-CoV-2 transmission among the public.”

“The rate of [positive results] was relatively high for floor swab samples, perhaps because of gravity and air flow causing most virus droplets to float to the ground. In addition, as medical staff walk around the ward, the virus can be tracked all over the floor, as indicated by the 100% rate of positivity from the floor in the pharmacy, where there were no patients. Furthermore, half of the samples from the soles of the ICU medical staff shoes tested positive. Therefore, the soles of … shoes might function as carriers. We highly recommend that persons disinfect shoe soles before walking out of [areas] containing COVID-19 patients.”

The rate of positivity was also relatively high for the surface of the objects that were frequently touched … The highest rates were for computer mice, followed by trash cans, sickbed handrails, and doorknobs. Sporadic positive results were obtained from sleeve cuffs and gloves …”

“We further assessed the risk for aerosol transmission of SARS-CoV-2 … These findings indicate that virus-laden aerosols were mainly concentrated near and downstream from the patients. The maximum transmission distance of SARS-CoV-2 aerosol might be 4 meters (or 13 feet).”

Our findings suggest that home isolation of persons with suspected COVID-19 might not be a good control strategy. Family members usually do not have personal protective equipment and lack professional training, which easily leads to familial cluster infections.”

Go to the source —

Guo Z-D, Wang Z-Y, Zhang S-F, Li X, Li L, Li C, et al. (2020). Aerosol and surface distribution of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in hospital wards, Wuhan, China. Emerging Infectious Diseases, 26(7), Early Release.

See more at @StrategianSci.

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