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Frightening grocery store simulation shows importance of covering mouth, staying home

Finnish researchers have created a simulation that shows the dramatic spread of cough droplets in a grocery store environment.
Finnish researchers have created a simulation that shows the dramatic spread of cough droplets in a grocery store environment. (Aalto University)

HOUSTON – Finnish researchers have created a simulation that shows the dramatic spread of cough droplets in a grocery store environment.

People may not think much of it when someone two aisles down from you coughs, but this new simulation shows why people should be more concerned.

In the simulation, a person “coughs” and the cloud not only spreads through the aisle they are in, but it floats over the top and reaches as far as two aisles away.

“Someone infected by the coronavirus, can cough and walk away, but then leave behind extremely small aerosol particles carrying the coronavirus,” explains Aalto University Assistant Professor Ville Vuorinen. “These particles could then end up in the respiratory tract of others in the vicinity.”

According to the research, Aalto University, Finnish Meteorological Institute, VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland and the University of Helsinki were all given the same parameters of setting, ventilation and location on the person within the aisle.

The researchers all ran separate tests and got the same results: “in the situation under investigation, the aerosol cloud spreads outside the immediate vicinity of the coughing person and dilutes in the process. However, this can take up to several minutes.”

“For a dry cough, which is a typical symptom of the current coronavirus, the particle size is typically less than 15 micrometers,” researchers said. “Extremely small particles of this size do not sink on the floor, but instead, move along in the air currents or remain floating in the same place.”

These results emphasize the recommendations that the CDC and other health organizations have put in place such as social distancing, avoiding crowded places, wearing face masks, coughing into a tissue or your sleeve and taking good care of hygiene.

You can read more about the simulation at Aalto.fi/en.

Watch the simulation below:

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