Amid coronavirus outbreak, video shows how droplets spread on mass transit from talking

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A video reveals how easily a person infected with coronavirus could potentially spread those particles on mass transit, even if they’re just talking to someone.

The simulation, created by scientists at the University of Oregon using technology produced by MSC Software, shows how an infected person talking to someone up close on the London Tube or the New York City subway would potentially spread the virus if there is a failure to social distance and cover one’s mouth.

The video was provided to BBC News. Even though the droplets don’t travel as far as they would if someone sneezed, they can still travel farther than one might expect from simply breathing or talking.


The simulation shows how you can coat someone in coronavirus simply by talking to them.

The simulation shows how you can coat someone in coronavirus simply by talking to them.
(MSC Software)

“If you are breathing and talking, obviously droplets don’t travel as far, but they can travel far enough to affect your friend sitting opposite you, or someone who’s chatting to you,” Julian Tang, a respiratory scientist at the University of Leicester, said on BBC News.

“That’s the key – distance. How far do [the infected droplets] have to travel to infect someone else?” she added.

Wearing a mask while on public transportation can mitigate the risks, according to scientists and MSC Software experts.

The simulation arrives as some U.S. states and other countries being to slowly reopen amid the outbreak.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised that if 6 feet of social distance can’t be maintained, it’s best to limit time with colleagues to only 15 minutes.

A video released earlier this month showed how fast coronavirus could spread at a restaurant buffet. In April, a different simulation showed how droplets from one single cough at a supermarket could spread throughout the space.

As of Monday, Transport for London is advising passengers to wear a face covering or mask, wash their hands before and after all journeys, use contactless forms of payment, carry hand sanitizer and maintain 6 feet of distance between other people, when possible.

In New York City, which has experienced a 90 percent drop in ridership amid the pandemic, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) is urging New Yorkers to stay home, and to wear a mask if they must ride trains and buses; in addition, the system is now closed down from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. each day for disinfecting and cleaning.


As of Tuesday, more than 1.6 million people were infected and at least 98,787 people had died from coronavirus in the United States.

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