The world as we know it has completely changed. We're in the midst of a global pandemic, caused by probably the deadliest strain of virus known to man. And not because it doesn't have a cure (yet), but because there's still so much we don't know about it! There's nothing scarier to scientists than the fear of the unknown and this strain of COVID-19 leaves much to our imagination. Every day, we hear news of the virus spreading like wildfire and claiming more lives. As of today, 81,970 people in India have been infected by the virus and 2,649 people have lost their lives.
Initially, researchers believed that the virus spread primarily through contact with an infected person. As more studies and research experiments are conducted every day, we're discovering new ways of exposure. Hell, the virus is even mutating into a more contagious strain! From direct contact to spreading through surfaces, traces of the virus have even been found in urine, semen, feces and house pets. And now new research says that the virus might spread through speech!
In a new study, microdroplets that are generated as a result of human beings in speech proved that these droplets of saliva could remain suspended in the air in a confined space for over 10 minutes. Each minute of speaking loudly or screaming can generate over 1,000 potentially infectious droplets of saliva. These could remain airborne for 8-12 minutes in a closed space.
A research experiment conducted at the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) had people shout out in an enclosed box the words 'stay healthy' repeatedly for 25 seconds. With the help of a laser projected into the box, the study analysed and highlighted the suspended droplets of saliva.
“Our laser light scattering method not only provides real-time visual evidence for speech droplet emission, but also assesses their airborne lifetime. This demonstrates how speech generates airborne droplets that can remain suspended and are capable of transmitting disease in confined spaces," the team of researchers was quoted as saying.
"These observations confirm that normal speaking in enclosed environments might carry a substantial risk of virus transmission. This direct visualisation demonstrates how normal speech generates airborne droplets that can remain suspended for tens of minutes or longer and are eminently capable of transmitting disease in confined spaces,” the researchers' study concluded.
Guess this means we'll all have to stay home, stay safe and stay calm!