Scientists from Finland have created a thrilling 3D model showing how a single cough can spread coronavirus in one of the few places we’re still allowed to visit – the supermarket.
Researchers from Aalto University have uploaded a video displaying the path bacteria takes when someone already infected with the virus coughs in a supermarket’s aisle. The creators of the 3D model explain in the video:
“In the 3D model, a person coughs in a corridor bounded by shelves under representative indoor ventilation airflow conditions. As a result of coughing, an aerosol cloud travels in the air to the corridor. It takes up to several minutes for the cloud to spread and disperse.”
Furthermore, the model illustrates how aerosol particles carrying the virus can remain in the air longer than we may think.
Researchers strongly suggest avoiding busy public indoor spaces. In a statement published on Monday, April 6th, the scientists explain the great dangers of visiting similar crowded areas. They claim that staying away from these places will significantly reduce the risk of ‘droplet infection, which remains the main path of transmission for coronavirus’.
By Friday, April 10th, there are over 1.5 million confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide. The death cases are nearly 100,000. Only in Finland, the total cases are 2,769, with 48 deaths.
The study conducted by the Finnish scientists includes modeling the airborne movement of aerosol particles smaller than 20 micrometers, having in mind that the particle size for a dry cough is typically less than 15 micrometers. In the statement, they note:
“Extremely small particles of this size do not sink on the floor, but instead, move along in the air currents or remain floating in the same place.”
Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have recommended wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
Such places are supermarkets, grocery stores, and pharmacies. The CDC indicates these restrictions are extremely important especially ‘in areas of significant community-based transmission‘.
Aalto University’s researchers followed the way small airborne aerosol particles are transported in the air when emitted from the respiratory tract when sneezing, coughing or even talking.
“The researchers modeled a scenario where a person coughs in an aisle between shelves, like those found in grocery stores; and taking into consideration the ventilation.”
Four Finnish research organizations were involved in the project, and all of them obtained the same preliminary result.
“In the situation under investigation, the aerosol cloud spreads outside the immediate vicinity of the coughing person and dilutes in the process. However, this can take up to several minutes.”