As the coronavirus or COVID-19 outbreak continues to spread throughout the world in recent times, scientists around the world are currently working to find a cure for the deadly virus. A new study explained how the COVID-19 hitches a ride on droplets released when a person cough, sneeze, talk or speak, and travels inside the room.
The scientists from the University of Minnesota are expecting that their work is going to help schools and businesses to take steps and reduce the chance of the transmission of COVID-19 as they reopen. For the research, scientists created a model of how these aerosols travel in indoor places such as rooms, elevators, and supermarkets. They also made a comparison between the virus and the different spacing of people inside a room.
"You see a lot of people talking about what the risks are of staying in confined spaces, but nobody gives a quantitative number," co-author Jiarong Hong, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, mentioned as reported by USNews. "I think the major contribution we've made is combining very accurate measurements and computational fluid dynamics simulation to provide a very quantitative estimate of the risks," he stated in a university news release.
Coronavirus Spread in Classroom Setting
Scientists found that good ventilation helps in filtering out some of the virus but can leave it on surfaces. Inside a classroom setting, the researchers ran a simulation in which an asymptomatic teacher spoke for 50 minutes. They got to know that 10 percent of aerosols were filtered out but most of the particles remained on the walls.
"Because this is very strong ventilation, we thought it would ventilate out a lot of aerosols. But 10% is really a small number," co-author Suo Yang stated. He mentioned that ventilation form vortexes and expelled aerosols tend to rotate within the vortexes. "When they collide with the wall, they attach to the wall. But, because they are basically trapped in this vortex, and it's very hard for them to reach the vent and actually go out," Yang said.
The scientists followed the airflow to find the hot spots of the virus where aerosols congregated inside the room. They also discovered that the aerosols spread less throughout the space when the teacher was placed directly under a vent. The researchers hope that the right combination of ventilation along with the interior design can decrease the spread of the virus. The report is yet to get peer-reviewed.
The deadly virus outbreak has created a major stir around the world in recent times infecting more than 17.3 million people globally and claiming the lives of over 673,000 people globally in more than 170 countries.