‘Cough chamber’ shows 2 metres of physical distancing not enough: Western University researchers

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As public health guidelines continue to recommend a two-metre space between people in an effort to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, a recently published study led by Western University researchers shows that distance is not far enough if someone coughs.

Research for the study took place inside the Western University mechanical and materials engineering department’s “cough chamber” during the 2017-18 influenza season.

On April 14, the university announced the findings have now been published in the journal Indoor Air and will be the basis of new research specific to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

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The cough chamber is a two-metre enclosed cube with an opening for study participants to cough into and is equipped with a camera and laser to determine the velocity of expelled droplets from a cough.

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The initial study was undertaken to analyze “expulsive airflows,” or coughs, produced by people with seasonal influenza and is believed to mark “the furthest distance anyone has ever measured cough airflow.”

The findings show that droplets from a cough can reach a person standing six feet away in just three seconds.

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