New Study Says Avoiding Talking in Restaurants Can Reduce COVID-19 Infection Risk

While Australia is in a particularly lucky position with COVID-19, and Australians have adapted to a COVID-normal life, we still have to take precautions in our everyday lives to ensure we’re safe. From hand hygiene to wearing masks when social distancing isn’t possible, these are things that have become commonplace.

While dining out has resumed across Australia, new recommendations for eating out guidelines have been released by researchers in South Korea. The new study has recommended that people avoid talking while eating out in restaurants in order to reduce the chance of COVID-19 infection. According to the Independent, the researchers formed this recommendation when they found that the virus could be transmitted more than six metres away.

The researchers also recommended indoor venues install a “wind partition” between diners or even consider sitting them in separate rooms in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19. These findings came out of a study that was commissioned following a cluster of cases connected to a restaurant in Jeonju, South Korea, earlier this year.

Through a combination of examining CCTV images, contract tracing interviews and mobile phone data, the researchers found that one diner was infected at a distance of 6.5 metres, despite only being exposed for five minutes. Another person in the restaurant was infected at a distance of 4.8 metres with 15 minutes of exposure. Neither person had direct or indirect contact with the original infection.

Researchers also looked at how the airflow of the restaurant played a role in the infection, as several other diners were not infected despite sitting closer to the person who was infected. In this case, researchers concluded that the droplets may have been carried longer distances thanks to the air conditioners which are attached to the ceiling.

“Droplet transmission can occur at a distance greater than 2m if there is direct airflow from an infected person,” the researchers said. “Therefore, updated guidelines involving prevention, contact tracing, and quarantine for COVID-19 are required for control of this highly contagious disease.

“In addition, in indoor settings such as restaurants, masks should be removed only during meals and should be worn before and after eating, while conversation during meals and loud talking or shouting should be avoided.

“In the long term, installation of separate rooms or bulkheads for indoor settings should be considered to prevent transmission of airborne and droplet infectious diseases.”

In order to keep yourself and others safe, continue to wash your hands frequently and use santiser while also adhering to social distancing measures.

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