Running and cycling in the city would increase coronavirus reach

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Belgian and Dutch researchers have shown how aerodynamics can boost the reach of Sars-CoV-2, the new coronavirus. The group of engineers – who lost one of their members to the covid-19 – revealed the impact of speed and aerodynamics on the transmission of the virus, relating the data to the habit of urban racing and cycling.

The study explains how respiratory droplets remain in the air until they reach the ground and what is the ideal distance to maintain between runners and cyclists. The analysis considered different speeds – walking, fast running and moderate speed on bicycles – to understand the air flow promoted by athletes and how it can impact other individuals along the way.

Without discouraging the practice of daily exercise, the researchers encourage running side by side – able to minimize the risk of contamination between runners. If that is not possible, they warn: the 1.5 meters distance is not enough to avoid contamination between corridors or passers-by; in this case, the ideal is to stay at least 2 meters away.

When talking about cyclists, the scenery changes according to the speed: if you are at a speed of almost 30 km / h; the next athlete must keep 20 meters away to avoid the droplets. In addition, the exclusive use of cycle paths by cyclists is even more important, since the air current generated by the athlete tends to maintain a trail of droplets.

Because they are just engineers, the group of researchers limited themselves to demonstrating how aerodynamics can amplify the range of respiratory droplets. Although quite complete, the study does not analyze the behavior of the human body during these activities. “We have to keep in mind, despite this, that we do not know the size of the contaminated particles are released by an infected person, if the virus is still” alive “and is capable of infecting others,” reiterated Linsey Marr, specialists in viral diseases with air contamination.

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Finally, the scientists also warn that the whole study considers an ideal scenario where there are no winds in the spaces covered. These interferences have a strong impact on the results, further increasing the range of the droplets dumped in some environments, including beaches, parks and very busy avenues.


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