A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researcher has claimed that warned that coronavirus droplets could travel up to 27 feet. The research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) is done by Lydia Bourouiba, an associate professor at MIT and an expert in fluid dynamics.
Bourouiba said that the social distancing of six feet (2 metres) should be revised by health experts in order to curb the spread of coronavirus COVID-19, reported New York Post.
"Mask efficacy as source control depends on the ability of the mask to trap or alter the high-momentum gas cloud emission with its pathogenic payload. Peak exhalation speeds can reach up to 33 to 100 feet per second (10-30 m/s), creating a cloud that can span approximately 23 to 27 feet (7-8 m)," Bourouiba wrote.
Notably, the Union Health Ministry has suggested the citizens to maintain physical distancing of around 1 metre or three feet to protect themselves from coronavirus.
"Recent work has demonstrated that exhalations, sneezes, and coughs not only consist of mucosalivary droplets following short-range semiballistic emission trajectories but, importantly, are primarily made of a multiphase turbulent gas (a puff) cloud that entrains ambient air and traps and carries within it clusters of droplets with a continuum of droplet sizes," Bourouiba emphasized.
According to the MIT researchers, the locally moist and warm atmosphere within the turbulent gas cloud helps the droplets to evade evaporation for much longer period than isolated droplets.
"Under these conditions, the lifetime of a droplet could be considerably extended by a factor of up to 1000, from a fraction of a second to minutes," said Bourouiba.
Meanwhile, Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the US-based National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, however, said that the MIT study should be taken with caution.
"This could really be terribly misleading," he said, stressing that the findings of this study apply only to people with extremely strong sneezes.
According to the MIT researcher, "owing to the forward momentum of the cloud, pathogen-bearing droplets are propelled much farther than if they were emitted in isolation without a turbulent puff cloud trapping and carrying them forward".