Coronavirus Outbreak: Not just while coughing or sneezing, microdroplets released while we talk can also spread the virus

While talking, people can release thousands of microdroplets that can spread the COVID-19 infection from one person to another.

While the idea that the spread of Coronavirus via respiratory droplets produced due to coughing or sneezing has been validated, researchers from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) have also concluded that the COVID-19 infection can spread via normal conversation as well. They conducted a study and published the results in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

Ever since the virus came to light in Wuhan in December last year, speculation has been rife on whether the viral strain originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology (WIV) or from its nearby Huanan Seafood Market.

These microdroplets can stay in the air for around eight to 14 minutes.

As an experiment, they made a person loudly repeat the phrase “Stay healthy” for 25 seconds inside a closed box. Then using laser light, projected into space, they could count the small droplets that lingered in the air after exiting the mouth and found that the droplets stayed in the air for an average of 12 minutes.

Based on earlier research into levels of the virus in oral fluid, the team of researchers estimated that one minute of talking loudly could generate more than 1,000 virus-containing droplets that would remain airborne for at least eight to 14 minutes.

“This direct visualization demonstrates how normal speech generates airborne droplets that can remain suspended for tens of minutes or longer and are eminently capable of transmitting disease in confined spaces,” the researchers concluded.

This study shows the importance of wearing masks to stop the spread of the virus as both symptomatic and asymptomatic people can have an infection in their oral fluids.

With input from agencies.