Why Wearing Mask, Social Distancing Remain Effective: COVID Virus Loses 90% Ability To Infect Within 20 Minutes In Air, Finds Study

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New Delhi: The COVID-19 virus becomes largely harmless and incapable of infecting us within 20 minutes of being airborne, The Guardian reports.

Researchers at the University of Bristol’s Aerosol Research Centre found that the virus loses 90 per cent of its ability to infect us within 20 minutes of becoming airborne with most of that loss happening in the first five minutes.

The study, on how the virus behaves in the air, underlines the fact that it travels only over short distances and that social distancing and masks remain very effective to avoid infection. The study is yet to be peer-reviewed.

The researchers focused on three earlier COVID variants — and not Omicron, which is fuelling a surge of cases now globally.

According to the study, the virus rapidly dries out after leaving the moist and carbon dioxide-rich lungs, reducing its ability to infect others.

At humidity levels below 50 per cent, comparable to offices, the virus lost 50 per cent of its ability to infect within five seconds. At 90 per cent humidity, comparable to shower rooms, the decline was more gradual, the study found.

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