Covid-19: How to Sit Down at The Table to Reduce The Risk of Contamination

Researchers have used the Fugaku supercomputer in Japan to model the behavior of droplets emitted by individuals sitting around the same table. According to these results, the guest next to the speaker receives twenty times more droplets than the one placed diagonally.

A recent study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States suggests an increased risk of transmission in restaurants. The results showed that people who tested positive for Covid-19 were twice as likely to have dined out in the two weeks before their test compared to those who tested negative.

A new simulation performed by the Fugaku supercomputer in Japan explored this risk of transmission in more detail. After modeling the spread of the virus in offices or trains, researchers from the Riken Institute, Toyohashi Technical University and Kobe University looked at the transmission between guests sitting at the same table and chatting without mask.

A different risk depending on the place occupied
Under typical restaurant conditions, the guest opposite receives approximately 5% of the droplets emitted. This number is divided by four for the individual placed diagonally. However, the guest sitting directly next to them receives five times as many droplets when the person turns their head to speak to them.

The supercomputer also simulated the projection of droplets according to the humidity of the air. With a humidity level of 30%, about 6% of the droplets produced by coughing reach a person sitting in front of about two meters. This figure is divided by three with a humidity level of 90%. The researchers therefore advise the use of humidifiers to reduce the transmission of Covid-19 when aeration is not possible.

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