What is the Right Distance? Breaking the Chain of Infection

Filed in Recent News by April 15, 2020

THERE is conflicting advice about the distance to keep from people being 1.5 metres or 2 metres.

Elizabeth Flaherty, editor of Scone.com.au sat down with Steve Davis, who was a doctor in the Australian Defence Force for 28 years, was responsible for health planning including pandemic planning, to explain what is the right distance to keep.

Watch the video or read the information below:

Key information from the video:

Evidence is the virus can be expelled for one metre from an infected person when they cough or sneeze. While some small particles can travel further, because of the size and weight of the SARS CoV2 virus it only spreads within one metre, hence the advice to stay 1.5 metres. 

Researchers measure the distance using a range of participants of different height, weight and other variables to know it only travels within one metre.

Confusion with a 2 metre distance may have occurred when the government introduced guidelines for the number of people who can be in a room of one person per four square meters, but the distance you need to maintain for infection control is 1.5 metres.

Many people are concerned about people walking past them and being closer than 1.5 metres, what risk does that present?

First, the chance of the person running past you having Covid-19 is probably quite low.

The timeframe that they are in your space is also very low, so the chance of them coughing at the moment they run past you is going to be very little as well, so the risk to you is very minimal.

To put that in perspective a confirmed contact, in terms of public health tracing, is 15 minutes of close contact.

The virus on surfaces

Someone coughing or sneezing can expel the virus onto surrounding surfaces within one metre. It can also reach surfaces through people with the virus on their hands, touching the surface.

The virus can live on different surfaces for varying amounts of time, up to a number of days.

That is why it is important in our environments, our work environment and our home environment to keep things clean, to limit transmission and soap and water does the best job (See also: Why Soap Works Best).

Stopping the virus from entering your home

When you return home after shopping or exercise if you have come into contact with other surfaces, wash your hands thoroughly for 20 seconds with soap and water and change your clothes.

Watch more videos: Breaking the Chain of Infection.

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