SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Researchers in Finland have released a shocking simulation that apparently shows how respiratory droplets from just one cough in a grocery store can linger in the air for “several minutes” and travel across two aisles, possibly infecting other shoppers nearby with coronavirus.
Aalto University, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the University of Helsinki studied how aerosolized particles released from the respiratory tract when coughing, sneezing or even talking flow through the air.
Preliminary results indicate that tiny particles carrying the coronavirus can linger in the air for longer than originally thought, reinforcing the importance of completely avoiding crowded spaces, or at the very least following social distancing guidelines.
According to Aalto University, the four research organizations each conducted the modeling independently and utilized the same starting conditions.
“Someone infected by the coronavirus, can cough and walk away, but then leave behind extremely small aerosol particles carrying the coronavirus,” Aalto University Assistant Professor Ville Vuorinen said.
“These particles could then end up in the respiratory tract of others in the vicinity,” he added.
The university said the 30 researchers used a supercomputer that modeled the airborne movement of aerosolized particles smaller than 20 micrometers – or .0007874 of an inch.
“For a dry cough, which is a typical symptom of the current coronavirus, the particle size is typically less than 15 micrometers,” it said.
“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. Studies of influenza A have confirmed that the influenza A virus can be found in the smallest particles, which measure less than 5 micrometers.”
At last check, there were more than 432,000 cases of coronavirus in the United States, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Earlier this week the White House issued a stark warning to Americans advising them to avoid going out even to grocery stores or pharmacies in the next to weeks as the pandemic is expected to hit a deadly apex.
“The next two weeks are extraordinarily important,” White House coronavirus response coordinator Deborah Birx warned at the press briefing.
“This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe,” Birx warned.