Scientists in Singapore have made a discovery by tracking the trajectory of coronavirus particles.
The study showed that at a distance of about 1 meter, a person standing in front of a device that simulates a cough actually receives a direct hit from the virus, receiving about 65% of all droplets produced by this cough. However, most of the drops are quite heavy and fall on the floor or nearby surfaces.
When the source of the cough is 2 meters away from the person, the cough still “delivers” enough virus in droplets to potentially infect another person. But in both cases, most of the droplets ended up on the lower body of the other person. Because of this, the researchers believe that people probably don't inhale these larger droplets directly, but may collect them on their skin or clothing and then infect themselves when they pick up the virus with their hands and touch their face.
“Teenagers and short adults are encouraged to maintain a social distance of more than two meters from taller people. This result underscores the potential risk for people of short stature, including children who are less than one meter from their cough”, — said the authors of the study from the Singapore Agency for Science, Technology and Research.
“Obviously, the virus will not infect your clothes. You’ll have to breathe it in, or you’ll have to, you know, rub your hands over your pants and pick up enough virus, and then touch your nose, eyes, or stick your finger in your mouth. I don't think people do that often”, — says Linsey Marr, Ph.D., an ecologist at Virginia Institute of Technology who is studying aerosol transmission of the virus.
Of course, she says, sneezing and coughing can be dangerous, but two people must be very close to each other, almost face to face, to transmit the virus in this way.
However, scientists argue that this study once again proves the need for masking and social distancing.