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Standing 6 Feet Apart? Still Coronavirus can be Transmitted Through Cough

by Aishwarya Nair on November 15, 2020 at 11:08 PM
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Standing 6 Feet Apart? Still Coronavirus can be Transmitted Through Cough

A new study suggests that cough can send coronavirus farther than 6 feet. Cough droplets travel a distance greater than 6 feet and hence can spread COVID-19.

The government has urged to maintain social distancing and has also promoted the importance of social distancing amongst the common man. But the recent study conducted now proves that 6 feet distance between yourself and individual coughing is insufficient to protect yourself.


In the latest study, researchers from Singapore estimated how droplets of various sizes might travel from a person coughing to a person standing either 1 meter or 2 meters away, or 3.2 feet and 6.5 feet away, respectively.

The study showed that a person standing 3 feet apart from the simulated cough gets a direct hit of the virus that is 65 % of all the droplets generated by the cough cover him.

When the cougher and trespasser are 2 meters or 6.5 feet apart, a fewer number of larger particles reach the other person but still delivers enough viruses to potentially infect the other person.

The path of these cough droplets was traced. It was observed that these droplets mostly move in the downward direction. Due to this the researchers concluded that these droplets land onto the limbs/clothes & not on the mouth or nose of the other person. Hence the passer by does not directly inhale those virus containing cough particles.

Linsey Marr, PhD, a civil and environmental engineer at Virginia Tech says, "Obviously, you don't get sick from virus landing on your clothing. You would have to breathe it in or you would have to, you know, rub your hands all over your pants and pick up enough virus then touch your nose, eyes, or stick your finger in your mouth. I don't think that's a big risk for transmission with this virus."

Researchers state that shorter people, like young children and teens, may be more at risk when a taller adult coughs, since their faces are more in line with the stream of these droplets. They say that during the pandemic, shorter people should stay more than 6 feet away from taller people.

The study proves that at a distance less than 6 feet, the individuals in close proximity have a higher chance of directly transmitting the virus containing cough droplets to another person's face.

Airborne Transmission of Viruses

Airborne transmission of viruses occurs in two ways. First, one is the big, heavy, bulky molecules expelled from the nose/mouth & the second is the small aerosols. Larger droplets contain greater amount of virus in them, but due to their huge size, they fall quickly and settle on some surfaces.

On the contrary, the aerosols are so small that they dry off very quickly & hence do not reach the floor. Aerosols are generated from the back of the throat when we talk, speak, or even sing.

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggest that particles from a cough, buoyed by the warm air in our breath, could travel much farther than 6 feet in a turbulent gas cloud. The smaller aerosols generated can travel a longer distance; hence the maximum possible distance should be maintained while in a public place.

COVID 19 is a mystery unsolved. Hence researchers state it is best if people take the maximum precaution.

Source: Medindia

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