SCIENTISTS have warned that breathing and talking is the “most common way to spread the coronavirus”, highlighting the need for further use of facemasks among the general public.
People across the UK have been told to wear masks while on public transport and when going to places such as supermarkets, but evidence shows that Covid-19 carriers exhale millions of virus particles per hour meaning you could be exposed to the virus if you are not wearing a mask.
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Researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing found that this was the case in Covid-19 patients who had mild or no symptoms at all.
It comes just weeks after a study revealed that speech droplets generated by asymptomatic carriers of the illness is a mode of transmission.
The study, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the US, used sensitive laser light scattering observations that revealed that loud speech can actually emit thousands of droplets per second.
In an environment which is stagnant they disappear from the window of view within 8-14 minutes.
Now a further study by researchers in Beijing has claimed that the virus can spread through breath and not just through coughing and sneezing.
Researchers led by Professor Jianxin Ma collected viral samples from thirty-five Covid patients.
There were collected from surfaces, the air inside the hospital and their breath.
On average there was three times the amount of virus in a patient's breath compared to on surfaces.
It was also four times higher than in air samples from hospital rooms and corridors.
The scientists said possessions such as mobile phones that were used by those carrying the virus presented low probabilities of transmitting the infection.
They added: “Large respiratory droplets and direct contact transmissions are presently cited as major transmission routes for the Covid-19.
“Evidences from our work show that exhaled breath emission may well be the most significant SARS-CoV-2 shedding mechanism, which could have contributed largely to the observed cluster infections and the ongoing pandemic.
'Accordingly, measures such as enhanced ventilation and the use of face masks are essential to minimise the risk of infection by airborne SARS-CoV-2.'
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It had previously been thought that contaminated surfaces were one of the biggest contributors to the spread of the virus.
Many supermarkets had therefore asked people to only handle what they intended to buy, but the new study found just one hand rail that would have been able to cause infection.
Among surfaces toilets had the highest strain of the virus, followed by hospital floors, bins, doors, handrails and medical equipment.
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