Until recently it was thought that the virus spread mainly through larger droplets
Together with the University of Twente, the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) has announced that it will conduct research into the distribution of virus particles in aerosols: miniscule moisture droplets suspended in the air.
Researcher Mariëtte Lokate will place people that have tested positive for the virus in a specially-sealed room. A microbiological air sampler will then used to measure the air in the room after someone has talked, coughed or sneezed. “The air sampler sucks up air. The smallest particles in that air end up in a liquid, which we then test for the presence of the Coronavirus, ”says Lokate. As reported by the GIC.
Ultimately, Lokate will also investigate whether the virus particles are still alive and how many there are after each person has talked, shouted, coughed; and so on.
“The next step is to see if aerosols can transmit the Coronavirus”, adds Lokate. Extra attention will be paid to patients who, for example, need an oxygen mask. Lokate wants to know whether there is an extra chance of spreading via aerosols under those circumstances, which could influence general practice regulations.
In the coming months, Lokate will ask patients and staff at the UMCG, who test positive for the Coronavirus, to participate in these tests. The results of the study are expected to be published in December this year.
Until now, both the World Health Organization (WHO) and Rijkinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milleu (RIVM) assumed that the virus does not spread widely through the small droplets. The thinking was that contamination mainly occurs through large drops when sneezing or coughing. Other scientists argue that aerosols remain in a room for a long time and are therefore dangerous, which has led to more and more governments around the world asking for their citizens to wear face-masks in indoor situations.