BFF-43 Chinese bus offers new evidence of airborne coronavirus spread: study

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ZCZC

BFF-43

HEALTH-VIRUS-CHINA

Chinese bus offers new evidence of airborne coronavirus spread: study

WASHINGTON, Sept 1, 2020 (BSS/AFP) – A person on a poorly ventilated
Chinese bus infected nearly two dozen other passengers with
coronavirus even though many weren’t sitting close by, according to
research published on Tuesday that offers fresh evidence the disease
can spread in the air.

Health authorities had initially discounted the possibility that
simply breathing could send infectious micro-droplets into the air,
but did a U-turn as experts piled on pressure and evidence mounted.

The article published Tuesday in JAMA Internal Medicine probes the
threat of airborne infection by taking a close look at passengers who
made a 50-minute trip to a Buddhist event in the eastern Chinese city
of Ningbo aboard two buses in January before face masks became routine
against the virus.

Researchers believe a passenger, whose gender was not identified,
was likely patient zero because the person had been in contact with
people from Wuhan, the city where the contagion emerged late last
year.

The scientists managed to map out where the other passengers sat,
and also test them for the virus, with 23 of 68 passengers
subsequently confirmed as infected on the same bus. What is notable
is that the sickness infected people in the front and back of the bus,
outside the perimeter of 1-2 meters (three-six feet) that authorities
and experts say infectious droplets can travel.

On top of that, the sick passenger was not yet showing symptoms of
the disease, such as a cough, when the group made their trip to a
religious event.

Researchers also noted the air conditioning simply recirculated the
air inside the bus, which likely contributed to spreading of the
virus.

“The investigations suggest that, in closed environments with air
recirculation, SARS-CoV-2 is a highly transmissible pathogen,” they
wrote, referring to the name of the virus.

“Our finding of potential airborne transmission has important
public health significance.”

Their study, which includes a diagram showing where each infected
passenger sat, adds to the evidence of airborne transmission,
including research into how the virus spread between diners’ tables at
a restaurant in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou.

BSS/AFP/MRU/2252hrs