A GP wants people to be aware of when and where they are most at-risk of catching Covid-19 during a second wave of the virus.
Research suggests that the virus can be present in the air for hours and inhaled into the lungs unless proper precautions are taken.
GP Dr Eilir Hughes and material scientist and risk management expert Dr Huw Waters have combined to produce a website making the latest scientific information on coronavirus available to the public, reports WalesOnline.
The pair warn social distancing alone may not be enough to keep safe if a person remains indoors for an extended period of time.
They have produced graphics that clearly show how wearing a mask can help reduce the risk of catching coronavirus – and reduce the dose inhaled if the virus is contracted.
They say that the latest data suggests that homes could be risky for hours with aerosol spray effect of any cough or sneeze able to travel tens of metres.
The website states: “Aerosols, just like droplets, are at their highest concentration within 2m of an infected person but can travel tens of meters. These aerosols can accumulate and remain infectious in indoor air for hours and can be easily inhaled deep into the lungs.
“There are two respiratory virus transmission pathways: contact (direct or indirect between people and contaminated surfaces) and airborne. Much has been made of tackling contact transmission through advice on maintaining social distance as much as possible and regular hand and surface washing.
“However, little focus has been given to airborne transmission. The method of infection depends upon the droplet size, small droplets are known as aerosols.”
According to the site, householders should try to refresh the air house by opening windows to stop a build-up of aerosols. Creating a draft through your home is key and they also suggest using a fan to push air out of a property.
There is evidence that the amount of Covid-19 air inhaled is linked to the severity of infection. So the pair are strongly suggesting wearing a mask indoors.
They wrote: “An increase in the number of asymptomatic infections has been attributed to increased mask-wearing,” adding “a mask can act as a source-control for an infected person but may also protect healthy individuals by reducing the viral load consumed.”
The pair draw attention to the recommendations of Jose-Luis Jimenez, a professor of Chemistry and an aerosol expert who recommends:
Don’t go to indoor public spaces unless it’s absolutely necessary.
If you are indoors, spend the least of time there as you can.
Make sure when you’re indoors, the room is well-ventilated, including mechanical ventilation like particle air filters and natural ventilation like open windows and doors.
Always wear a mask indoors.
Make sure the mask fits and doesn’t have gaps.
Anyone who is talking to others – especially to a large group – should be wearing a mask. Shouting and singing are especially problematic and should be avoided.
“Myself and Huw, we come from different disciplines. He is a material scientist trained in risk management and I am GP,” said Dr Hughes.
“We bought our heads together to look at what the most up-to-date science tells us about how the virus spreads.
“From that website you can see that the latest science describes that the virus can spread by aerosols. This has a huge bearing on what measures are implemented and recommended.”
Both men want to make the latest data more accessible to the public in order to help reduce the risks ahead of a potential second wave of infections.
Dr Hughes added: “If you don’t apply the most up-to-date knowledge we can’t do the best that we can do. The idea of this website was to make this available for everyone and anyone so it wasn’t hidden away in a journal where a layperson wouldn’t be able to get access to it.
“We have formulated some very basic and simple recommendations on how we could reduce the risk of the aerosol transmission element of the virus. It’s something we can all apply if we are indoors.”