Humidifiers could help to slow the spread of Covid-19 - here’s how

The findings of a new study suggest that humidifiers could help to limit the spread of coronavirus over winter.

By carrying out an experiment comparing the way virus-like particles move through the air at different humidity levels, researchers found that there can be more than twice as many aerosolized particles - which can spread the virus - in drier air.

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What was the study about?

During the winter months, people tend to spend more time inside, often in dry and poorly ventilated environments.

Winter is generally considered to be a particularly bad time of year for the transmission of viruses like the flu, but the research shows the specific link between low humidity and higher potential for viruses to spread.

This suggests that humidifiers could make a difference in reducing the spread of the virus during winter, particularly when windows can’t be opened.

What did they find?

Researchers at Japanese research institute Riken used the Fugaku supercomputer to model the spread of particles from infected people in a number of different indoor environments, to measure the effect of humidity on virus transmission.

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They found that air at a humidity lower than 30 per cent contained more than twice the amount of aerosolized particles than air with humidity of 60 per cent or higher.

The study also showed that masks are more effective than face visors at preventing aerosol spread, and that you are more at risk of picking up an infection from someone sitting beside you at dinner than opposite.

The Riken research team is led by Makoto Tsubokura and has previously used the Fugaku supercomputer to look at how the virus can spread in train carriages and class rooms, finding that opening windows leads to increased air circulation.

Mr Tsubokura said, “People’s blind fear or unfounded confidence against the infection of Covid-19 is simply because it is invisible.”

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