The latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control is that people wear cloth masks over their faces when they go outside, not to protect themselves from coronavirus but to protect others. Since the illness doesn't show any symptoms in some people, they could be carriers and not know it. If they were to then cough while unmasked, they could potentially infect those around them. But just how likely is that to happen? Well researchers in Finland released a simulation to illustrate that and it is pretty chilling.
The clip, which comes from the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, the Finnish Meteorological Institute and VTT Technical Research Center of Finland, is based on a study of how aerosolized particles move through the air after coming out of the respiratory system from a cough, a sneeze, or talking. It shows how the germs from a person who coughs once in a supermarket aisle can remain in the air for several minutes and move as far as two aisles over.
Each of the four organizations did the experiment independently, using supercomputers and their expertise in physics, ventilation, engineering and viruses, and all four wound up with the same results, showing that coronavirus can linger in the air longer than originally thought.
One researcher said of the conclusions, "The (institute) recommends that you stay at home if you are unwell and that you maintain physical distance with everyone. The instructions also include coughing into your sleeve or a tissue and taking care of good hand hygiene."
They did go on to state though, "Based on the modeling of the consortium, it is not yet possible to directly issue new recommendations. However, these results are an important part of the whole, and they should be compared with the data from real-life epidemic studies."
Probably best to err on the side of caution and put a mask on if you have to leave the house, or better yet, just stay home.