A new study claims that COVID-19, popularly known as coronavirus, can be transmitted from a further distance than previously thought, and last longer on certain surfaces than originally suspected.
In a paper for the Practical Preventive Medicine journal obtained by the South China Morning Post, epidemiologists for China’s government concluded that someone can still become infected with coronavirus, even if they stick to the suggested “safe distance” of three to six feet apart in public.
“It can be confirmed that in a closed environment with air-conditioning, the transmission distance of the new coronavirus will exceed the commonly recognized safe distance,” the researchers wrote.
Their findings were based on a coronavirus patient who became infected during a four-hour bus ride on January 22. Of the 13 people who caught the virus, a few individuals were sitting as far as six rows away, or about 15 feet.
“The possible reason is that in a completely enclosed space, the airflow is mainly driven by the hot air generated by the air conditioning,” the researchers explained. “The rise of the hot air can transport the virus-laden droplets to a greater distance.”
The incident also revealed that about 30 minutes after everyone who had been infected got off the bus, someone else caught the virus by possibly inhaling tiny particles exhaled by the previous group. Meanwhile, the initial carrier boarded another bus and infected two others, who were also about 15 feet away.
If that wasn’t alarming enough, the study also found that COVID-19 can last for days depending on the surface and environment. If the virus can dwell in a place that stays at 98 degrees, it can last on fabric, glass, metal, paper, or plastic for two to three days.
Oddly, the passengers who were sitting right next to the coronavirus patient on the bus didn’t get infected.
“Our knowledge about this virus’s transmission is still limited,” a researcher admitted.