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PANDEMIC SAFETY


CORONAVIRUS IN CLOSED ROOMS VERSUS THE OUTDOORS


There are three main transmission paths – droplets, aerosols and contact surfaces – but in the majority of cases the virus is transmitted by droplets (coughing sneezing and speaking). The droplets are absorbed via the mucous membranes of the mouth, nose and eyes of the person opposite. Studies from many countries show almost completely that droplet infection by direct human-to-human transmission is the predominant route to infection.


Studies have also shown that aerosols (droplets smaller than


five micrometres, which are produced when coughing, sneezing and even when breathing out and then ‘stand still’ in the air) were detectable for up to three hours in a closed room and contained infectious virus. According to Covid-19 patient surveys, aerosols are now believed to be responsible for a large portion of infections. The risk of infection in closed room is almost 20 times higher compared to outdoor situations.


CORONAVIRUS AND SURFACES


Interactions between viruses and materials are complicated and difficult to research. What we do know is that surfaces such as cotton or cardboard suck up a droplet through their open- pored structure, which dries out the virus, preventing it from


being able to reproduce. With closed surfaces such as plastic gloves, meanwhile, a droplet containing the virus remains on the surface. To investigate the survival time of reproductive (infectious)


viruses on inanimate surfaces, different materials were treated with SARS-CoV-2 viruses. On all surfaces the amount of viruses decreased exponentially over time, but at different speeds on different surfaces. In the case of copper, no viruses were detectable after four hours, in the case of cardboard after 24 hours. In the case of stainless steel, the viruses remained alive on the surface for up to 48 hours, and in the case of plastic for as much as 72 hours. For fabrics such as cotton, other studies have shown a survival time of 24 hours to two days for viruses with a high viral load, or only a few minutes to one hour for a low viral load. Of course, the duration of the virus’ ability to multiply depends essentially on the natural environment: temperature and air humidity play a major role (the colder, the longer the virus can remain intact). For example, if clothes are hung in a warm, dry place for 24 hours, this should be enough to decimate the virus enormously. Essentially: the smoother and denser the material, the longer


the virus remains capable of multiplying (infectious); even up to six days. The more open-pored and absorbent the material and the warmer the environment, the faster the virus dries out.


62 | CLIMB. WALK. JOIN.


PHOTO: SHUTTERSTOCK


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