In studies related to the novel coronavirus, scientists and researchers are now focussing on tinier particles, the ones that spread more like cigarette smoke.
These particles, they say, are carried by wisps of air and even upward drafts caused by the warmth of our bodies. They can linger in the air for minutes to hours.
For these particles, called aerosols, “6 feet is not a magic distance,” they say. It’s still important to keep one’s distance from others.
The World Health Organisation, which had long dismissed a danger from aerosols except in the case of certain medical procedures, has also agreed that aerosol transmission of the coronavirus can’t be ruled out in cases of infection within crowded and poorly ventilated indoor spaces.
In fact, researchers now say infection by aerosols is happening a lot more than people initially were willing to think. A key piece of evidence are the so-called “superspreader” events where one infected person evidently passed the virus to many others in a single setting.
There could be another way for tiny particles to spread. They may not necessarily come directly from somebody’s mouth or nose, they say.
Wearing a mask is still important, and making sure it fits snugly. Duration of exposure is also important.