A recent study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health says particles of the coronavirus released by an infected person while talking can remain in the air for 8 to 14 minutes, a warning sign that airborne transmission might be more contagious than previously anticipated.
The scientists behind the study said, while it has been long accepted that coughing and sneezing can transmit respiratory viruses through droplets, It is less widely known that normal speaking also produces thousands of oral fluid droplets with a broad size distribution.
The research, published last week in an edition of the peer-reviewed Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, highlighted that, “There is a substantial probability that normal speaking causes airborne virus transmission in confined environments.”
“Speech droplets generated by asymptomatic carriers of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are increasingly considered to be a likely mode of disease transmission,” the study reads.
It noted that while COVID-19 is less deadly than SARS, it is far more easily transmitted, and scientists are still working to understand the extent to which it can be spread and how long it can survive.
“This information has huge ramifications for how we interact with one another and what kinds of spaces and activities are considered safe,” it said.