• Sairam Paluri

Sneeze, Cough and Speech - Social distancing during COVID-19 outbreak

Social distancing is very important during this outbreak. Well, you have heard a lot about this...let us know why this matters.

The R0 value(reproductive value), it tracks how many people, on average, will be infected for every one person who has the disease. For COVID-19 the R0 value ranges from 2 to 5 as per Emerging Infectious Diseases journal.

Some persons may not show any symptoms, but they still carry the virus and can infect other people. These persons are Asymptomatic carriers. The main problem lies with them, they can spread the virus while lingering around us. There will be many chances of spreading infection from them when they Sneeze, Cough and even Speak.

Let's look at what happens when a person sneezes-


- The larger droplets can travel up to 2 meters, while the smaller ones travel up to 6 to 8 meters

Now take a look at what happens when a person Coughs-

The video shows a projected Schlieren Light beam distorted by the jet of expelled air


- Since there is evidence that COVID-19 spreads through cough from an infected person, it may reach the near person through a cough.

Finally, see what happens when a person speaks-


- While speaking droplets may be expelled out, it may carry the virus and transmit the disease.

- Wearing a mask as we see in the video, there is a drastic decrease in the release of the droplets.

Thinking that no one is infected around you, roaming and gathering for small talk in your neighbourhood, you are more likely to get infected from an asymptomatic carrier near you. Furthermore, you spread the virus to elderly people and kids in your community becoming more dangerous than the virus itself.

Follow these additional precautions to be safe-

1. Don't touch any objects outside unnecessarily.

2. Even if you touch those objects, don't touch your eyes, nose and mouth without washing your hands.

3. Hand hygiene is very important...(article on hand hygiene)

4. Try to use non-dominant hand(left hand for a right handed person and right hand for a left handed person) to touch any objects in the public

5. Maintain a regular physical activity, it reduces the risk of contracting a communicable diseases (such as viral and bacterial infections) by enhancing the immune system’s ability to regulate itself. But try to avoid a gym.

Take a look at the Self-isolation algorithm provided by Harvard University Health Services