Home Isolation 'Might Not Be' Right for Everyone

Study also says coronavirus droplets can really fly
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2020 9:30 AM CDT
Standing 6 Feet Away? That's Not Enough
People, some wearing protective face masks as a precaution against the spread of the new coronavirus, shop at a market before the curfew imposed by the government to restrict crowds, in Asuncion, Paraguay, Saturday, March 21, 2020.   (AP Photo/Jorge Saenz)

The six-foot distance rule might not be enough after all. A new study out of China suggests we could all step back an extra seven feet to avoid coronavirus droplets that hang in the air for hours, AFP reports. Led by researchers from the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing, the team tested air and surface samples at a COVID-19 ward and an ICU unit at a Wuhan hospital. Among their findings: Virus droplets spread by so-called aerosolization were mostly near and downstream patients up to 13 feet away, while some were also upstream, up to eight feet away.

The researchers say they found most of the virus contamination on floors, likely due to the force of gravity. High concentrations also existed on door knobs, garbage cans, computer mice, and bed rails. "Furthermore, half of the samples from the soles of the ICU medical staff shoes tested positive," they write. On the upside, no hospital staff members were infected, "indicating that appropriate precautions could effectively prevent infection." Then, this bomb: "Our findings suggest that home isolation of persons with suspected COVID-19 might not be a good control strategy" due to high contamination levels in the environment. (More coronavirus stories.)

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