Ireland Tracing Data Shows Only One Virus Infection in 1,000 Is Caught Outdoors
So great then that we spent the last one year confined to home arrest
Only one coronavirus infection in every thousand occurs outside, according to an analysis of contact tracing data in the Republic of Ireland.
The findings, which tally with other research throughout the world, suggest that there is minimal risk to people meeting outdoors, where particles of the virus rapidly disperse.
However, scientists caution that mass meetings such as pop concerts, where people are close together and which have not happened during the pandemic, may still carry a high risk.
Professor Simon Clarke, from the University of Reading, said that the data, published by The Irish Times, was yet more evidence that people should be relatively relaxed about outdoor activities that have attracted criticism in the past, such as going to the beach.
“You don’t get better ventilation than from the sea, so people congregating on a beach is likely to represent a minimal risk,” he said. “Similarly, complaints from some people that they can feel themselves breathing in the exhalations of runners seems ridiculous, unless they’re getting inappropriately close.”
Because people outside spent more time in close proximity than those indoors, he cautioned that this did not mean that the risk of infection was genuinely a thousandfold higher inside. “As things stand, it’s impossible to accurately compare the indoor and outdoor risks of coronavirus transmission,” Clarke said. “That sort of analysis is prevented by the fact that we are spending less time outside, with different numbers of people, doing different activities. So putting a ratio to it is simply plucking numbers out of the air.”
However, there is now a strong consensus that being outdoors is far safer. In December researchers performed a review of documented cases of transmission around the world and concluded that the odds of being infected outside were about 19 times lower.
Public Health England’s own review concluded: “Evidence continues to suggest that the vast majority of transmission happens in indoor spaces . . . the small number of cases where outdoor transmission may have occurred are associated with gatherings that facilitate close interactions, particularly extended duration.”
Professor Paul Hunter, of the University of East Anglia, said his own work suggested that people should just be sensible. “Personally I do not worry about the risk of Covid outdoors and I don’t wear a mask outdoors unless I am in a particularly crowded place and I really try to avoid this. If out of doors and you are talking to people just don’t get into each other’s faces.”
Risk from surfaces is low The risk of becoming infected with the coronavirus by touching surfaces is less than 1 in 10,000, according to a study published by America’s leading public health agency (Hannah Mays writes).
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidelines as a result.
“Finally,” Linsey Marr, an expert on airborne viruses at Virginia Tech University, told The New York Times. “We’ve known this for a long time and yet people are still focusing so much on surface cleaning.”
Early in the pandemic officials emphasised washing and sanitising your hands, leading to a global rush to buy sanitiser. Researchers reported that the virus could survive for days on surfaces, including plastic and stainless steel, but over the past year it has become clear that the virus spreads primarily through the air and that scrubbing surfaces does little to protect people.
Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC, said at a White House briefing on Monday: “Disinfection is only recommended in indoor settings — schools and homes — where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of Covid-19 within the past 24 hours.”
Source: The Times