One of the safety guidelines that people are required to follow during this time of pandemic is physical distancing. At least 6 feet or 1.8 meters of space between one person and another is recommended by health authorities to prevent virus transmission in public places and even indoors. However, a new study suggests that it may not anymore suffice in averting the spread of the virus.
There are a lot more factors that drive the transmission of the virus from person to person. Ventilation, crowd volume, duration of exposure, and wearing of protective gear matter just the same according to a research done by experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Oxford.
Apparently, the CDC notes that positioning oneself less than the recommended distance is considered close contact and is vital in the rapid spread of the disease.
The recent study reiterates that social/physical distancing is only a small part of what should be a bigger strategic plan of measures to be taken in managing the virus outbreak. Abiding by just one of the safety protocols and then violating the rest is not effective. Every detail must be considered and followed.
The ability of the virus to stay active in the air can be prolonged depending on the action of emission like coughing or shouting. The risk even increases when the area has poor ventilation, is crowded, and people are exposed without face protection. Places with typically large crowds belong to the high-risk group such as bars, stadiums, restaurants. The study provides a chart that shows the risk of transmission in different factors applied.
It would seem as if the public is complacent or just poorly aware of the danger that they pose upon themselves in violating even just one safety protocol. Bioethicist Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel says that better dissemination of information and more effort on public awareness must be exerted to emphasize the severity of the threat we are facing.
“Nothing’s zero risk,” says Emanuel.
6 feet is only the bare minimum length for social distancing. As a matter of fact, it is applicable indoors. But for the outside, farther is safer. That rule is based on antiquated data and does not necessarily apply to SARS-CoV-2, which is the strain of the virus that causes Covid-19. Epidemiologist Eleanor Murray said that the recent data could contribute to the public health authorities who come up with safety guidelines. Better protocols can be formulated along with the equivalent awareness campaign to help the people gain further understanding on the current situation.