A study into short-range Covid transmission says physical distancing and mask-wearing is still likely to be the best way to prevent infection over ventilation, which is likely to have a lesser impact.
The study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, was conducted by the University of Bristol’s Aerosol Research Centre.
The researchers were able to simulate what would happen to the virus when exhaled rather than using previous techniques of spraying the virus experimentally on surfaces to measure the effect of its spread.
Professor Jonathan Reid, director of the University of Bristol’s Aerosol Research Centre and the study’s lead author told the Guardian: “People have been focused on poorly ventilated spaces and thinking about airborne transmission over metres or across a room. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, but I think still the greatest risk of exposure is when you’re close to someone.
“When you move farther away, not only is the aerosol diluted down, there’s also less infectious virus because the virus has lost infectivity [as a result of time].”
Reid added: “It means that if I’m meeting friends for lunch in a pub today, the primary [risk] is likely to be me transmitting it to my friends, or my friends transmitting it to me, rather than it being transmitted from someone on the other side of the room."