In Brief

Two metre distancing ‘may not be enough’ in Britain’s pubs and clubs, scientists say

Researchers suggest Covid-19 droplets expelled in coughs and sneezes may spread up to eight metres

People may need to maintain a distance of far more than the UK’s recommended two metres from others in order to prevent the spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus in certain conditions, a new study suggests.

Just weeks after the official guidance in England and Northern Ireland was changed to “one metre-plus” for many public places, researchers at the University of Oxford have found that even the two-metre rule is based on “studies dating back up to 100 years ago and is too simplistic”, says the Daily Mail.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that people from different households maintain a distance of at least one metre from each other, because “when someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus”.

But the Oxford researchers say evidence suggests that how far virus-carrying droplets can spread depends on the specific environment. Yet previous research has failed to factor in these environmental conditions, and is “based on an outdated, dichotomous notion of respiratory droplet size”, the experts report.

In a research paper published in the British Medical Journal, they explain that “clouds of small droplets can travel beyond two metres in the air, and even large droplets have enhanced range”.

The team are calling for more stringent distancing rules to be introduced for bars, pubs and nightclubs, as indoor spaces that are poorly ventilated and where people often have to shout to be heard over music.

An analysis published in March by scientists at the Massachussetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that viral droplets expelled in coughs and sneezes can travel in a moist, warm atmosphere at speeds of up to 100ft per second and reach up to eight metres, as The Telegraph reported at the time.

Reporting their findings in a paper in Journal of the American Medical Association (Jama), the experts wrote that the current rules “are based on estimates of range that have not considered the possible presence of a high-momentum cloud carrying the droplets long distances”.

“Recommendations for separations of 3ft to 6ft (one metre to two metres) may underestimate the distance, timescale, and persistence” of coronavirus infected droplets in the air, they added.

Recommended

Covid-19: everything you need to know about coronavirus
coronavirus.jpg
Coronavirus

Covid-19: everything you need to know about coronavirus

Indian Wells tennis cancelled - is Wimbledon in danger?
Novak Djokovic kisses the winner’s trophy after beating Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final
In Brief

Indian Wells tennis cancelled - is Wimbledon in danger?

Coronavirus impact on sport: ‘serious concerns’ for Olympics
Officials at the Japan Coast Guard base in Yokohama where a cruise ship is in quarantine following an outbreak of coronavirus
In Brief

Coronavirus impact on sport: ‘serious concerns’ for Olympics

Fact check: the Oxford vaccine and older people
An NHS nurse vaccinates a patient
Behind the scenes

Fact check: the Oxford vaccine and older people

Popular articles

What do Covid vaccines cost - and who is paying over the odds?
People wait to be vaccinated at Salisbury Cathedral
Getting to grips with . . .

What do Covid vaccines cost - and who is paying over the odds?

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021
Line of Duty series six returns to BBC One in 2021
In Depth

Best TV crime dramas to watch in 2021

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 Jan 2021
10 Downing Street
Daily Briefing

Ten Things You Need to Know Today: 26 Jan 2021

Free 6 issue trial then continue to