Coronavirus: contagious particles float 16 FEET from patients

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There is currently a lot of controversy over the role that liquid droplets in the air – or aerosols – play in the spread of the novel coronavirus.

But a new study from the University of Florida has confirmed that these droplets not only contain pieces of genetic material, but are in fact infectious.

Air samples taken from a hospital room found contagious virus particles between seven feet and 16 feet of patients lying in bed.

The latter is much further away than the six-foot guidelines recommended by public health experts to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In a new study from the University of Florida, researchers took air samples from a hospital room with two coronavirus patients, one of whom had an active infection (above)

Infectious coronavirus particles were found in air samples taken between seven feet and 16 feet from patients (above)

Infectious coronavirus particles were found in air samples taken between seven feet and 16 feet from patients (above)

Until recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) claimed that aerosol transmission of the coronavirus was only possible in hospitals during medical procedures with nebulizers and aspiration.

Last month, the WHO officially recognized that SARS-CoV-2, the virus’s official name, can be transported in aerosols.

But there are still many experts, among agencies such as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Public Health England, who have played down the role of aerosols and focused on droplets spread by coughs and sneezing.

Aerosol spread occurs when respiratory droplets produce tiny particles, measuring less than five micrometers, which is smaller than a pollen particle.

These aerosols can be inhaled and, if sufficient, can cause infection.

This method is more dangerous in terms of transmission than respiratory droplets, but can be mitigated by avoiding congested indoor spaces.

For the study, posted on the preprint site medRxiv.org, the team collected air samples from the bedroom of two coronavirus patients at Shands Hospital at the University of Florida.

One of the patients had an active infection and neither had undergone medical procedures which the WHO says are the main drivers of aerosol transmission.

In addition, the room was previously equipped with safety measures such as six air changes per hour and ultraviolet lights.

The researchers used viable virus aerosol samplers, which enlarged the aerosolized viral particles to capture them, then tested them.

Tests have shown that a viable virus capable of infection was found in samples taken between 7 and 16 feet (2 to 4.8 meters) from patients.

The genomic sequence of the virus found in the air samples was identical to that of a swab from the patient with the active infection.

Sequencing of the virus genome in the air samples was the same as that of the swab from the patient with the active infection.  Pictured: A medical staff member treats a patient who wears a helmet ventilator in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, July 28

Sequencing of the virus genome in the air samples was the same as that of the swab from the patient with the active infection. Pictured: A medical staff member treats a patient who wears a helmet ventilator in the COVID-19 intensive care unit at the United Memorial Medical Center in Houston, Texas, July 28

Several experts say this is clear evidence of the danger of aerosol spread, including Dr. Linsey Marr, professor of engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University.

“If it’s not a smoking gun then I don’t know what it is,” she tweeted last week.

The team says the public health implications of the results are vast as the current best practices for limiting the spread of the coronavirus are social distancing, wearing masks and washing hands.

However, measures such as standing six feet away are not helpful in an indoor environment for aerosol transmission.

“With the current outbreaks of cases, to help stem the COVID-19 pandemic, clear guidance on SARS-CoV-2 aerosol control measures is needed, as other scientists have recently expressed.” , wrote the authors.

In the United States, there are currently more than 5.1 million confirmed cases of the virus and more than 164,000 deaths.

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