Japan supercomputer shows humidity affects aerosol spread of coronavirus

TOKYO (REUTERS) – A Japanese supercomputer showed that humidity can have a large effect on the dispersion of virus particles, pointing to heightened coronavirus contagion risks in dry, indoor conditions during the winter months.

The finding suggests that the use of humidifiers may help limit infections during times when window ventilation is not possible, according to a study released on Tuesday (Oct 13) by research giant Riken and Kobe University.

The researchers used the Fugaku supercomputer to model the emission and flow of virus-like particles from infected people in a variety of indoor environments.

Air humidity of lower than 30 per cent resulted in more than double the amount of aerosolised particles, compared with levels of 60 per cent or higher, the simulations showed.

The study also indicated that clear face shields are not as effective as masks in preventing the spread of aerosols. Other findings showed that diners are more at risk from people to their side compared to across the table, and the number of singers in choruses should be limited and spaced out.

The research team led by Dr Makoto Tsubokura previously used the Fugaku supercomputer to model contagion conditions in trains, work spaces, and classrooms.

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