The UK’s coronavirus social distancing limit is at least four times too short, a study has warned.
The public are currently being asked to keep a distance from each other of at least 6ft 6in.
But a new study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) suggests the gap should be around four times bigger at 26 feet.
The UK’s coronavirus social distancing limit is at least four times too short, a study has warned. Pictured: People keep their distance from each other as they queue to get into Tesco in Stoke-on-Trent on Saturday
The study, which was reported by the Telegraph, found that viral droplets expelled in coughs and sneezes can travel in a moist, warm atmosphere at speeds of between 33 and 100ft per second (ten metres to 100 metres).
It has also been warned that droplets, which contribute to the rapid spread of covid-19, can remain suspended in the air for several hours.
And their direction can easily be changed by air ventilation systems to create ‘turbulent clouds of air.’
Many people are now finding themselves in close quarters with others on a daily basis, with supermarkets still feeling the effects of mass panic buying of products.
In London, despite persistent calls from the Government for only essential workers to continue with the morning commute, images have revealed packed carriages on the London Underground.
The authors of the MIT study offered further clarity on their findings, and detailed why social distancing needs to be increased within the Journal of the American Medical Association (Jama).
Despite calls for only essential workers to make the daily commute, the underground is remains bustling with members of the public unable to adhere to social distancing
HOW THE SPREAD OF COVID-19 CHANGED EVERYTHING
In the space of seven short days, life in the UK has changed beyond recognition.
The nation is entering its first weekend of lockdown at the end of a week that has seen society shut down and the streets virtually empty as attempts to slow the spread of coronavirus ramped up.
A week ago today, pubs, bars, theatres and restaurants were facing their first full day of closure, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered the closing down of the hospitality and entertainment sectors.
The ban, backed by the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, came amid reports that many people were ignoring an earlier voluntary appeal to stay away.
The number of people who had died after testing positive for Covid-19 stood at 233.
Sunday brought a Mother’s Day unlike anyone had ever seen before, as the public were urged to resist visiting their mothers amid a warning from Mr Johnson that the outbreak was ‘accelerating’.
Meanwhile, it was announced that the NHS was to begin sending out letters to the 1.5 million people considered to be most at risk from the disease, urging them to remain at home for the next 12 weeks.
Just a day later, the Prime Minister announced the strictest curbs on UK life seen yet, placing the country on lockdown.
In a televised address to the nation, Mr Johnson ordered the public to only leave home to shop for basic necessities ‘as infrequently as possible’ and to perform one form of exercise a day.
People could also leave their houses to seek medical help, provide care to a vulnerable person or travel to work if “absolutely necessary”, he said.
All shops selling non-essential items, along with premises including libraries, playgrounds and places of worship, were immediately closed, all social events, including weddings and baptisms, but not funerals, were stopped, and public gatherings of more than two people – other than of those who people live with – were banned.
On Tuesday, the Government announced plans to recruit 250,000 volunteers in good health to help the national effort by assisting those who are shielding themselves against Covid-19 through delivering medicines, shopping and other support.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that a temporary hospital – the NHS Nightingale hospital – would be opened at London’s ExCeL centre, and announced that almost 12,000 recently retired NHS staff, including doctors, nurses and pharmacists, had responded to the call to return to the health service.
The following day came the news that the Prince of Wales had tested positive for coronavirus.
Clarence House said in a statement that Charles, 71, had “mild symptoms” and was self-isolating at home in Scotland with his wife, the Duchess of Cornwall, who did not have the virus.
Meanwhile, just 24 hours after launching the call for volunteers, it was revealed that 405,000 people had signed up to help. And Parliament adjourned for an early Easter break after emergency legislation to tackle Covid-19 was approved.
A total of 759 people have now died in UK hospitals – up from 578 the day before – while 14,543 have tested positive for the virus and hundreds of thousands more are thought to be infected.
NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens said NHS staff would start being tested for Covid-19 from next week, and revealed that across England, there are now 33,000 hospital beds available to treat coronavirus patients.
‘These distances are based on estimates of range that have not considered the possible presence of a high-momentum cloud carrying the droplets long distances,’ they said.
‘Given the turbulent puff cloud dynamic model, recommendations for separations of three feet to six feet (one metre to two metres) may underestimate the distance, timescale, and persistence over which the cloud and its pathogenic payload travel, thus generating an underappreciated potential exposure range for a healthcare worker.
‘For these and other reasons, wearing of appropriate personal protection equipment is vitally important for health care workers caring for patients who may be infected, even if they are farther than six feet away from a patient.’
Further studies also reportedly show the virus does have the capability to survive in the warm conditions of a swimming pool, which throws the notion of temperature killing off covid-19 into serious question.
Britain’s coronavirus death toll surged by 181 yesterday as Government advisers warned that even stricter social distancing measures could be on the way. It is by far the biggest daily increase and means the disease has claimed 759 lives
It had been believed that the warm weather in the summer would lead to there being fewer cases of COVID-19.
However, scientists at Nanjing Medical University in China discovered that the virus showed the ability to survive the temperature of a pool being between 25 degrees Celsius and 41 degrees Celsius and humidity of approximately 60 per cent.
Such conditions would typically kill off a strain of the common flu.
On Friday, Britain’s coronavirus death toll surged by 181 as Government advisers warned that even stricter social distancing measures could be on the way.
It means the disease has now claimed 759 lives, including young and previously healthy people.
Government advisers said stricter social distancing policies may have to be rolled out next month if the grim figures continued to rise.
The measures would be introduced in three weeks as the outbreak reached its peak to further reduce ‘person-to-person interaction’.