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Coronavirus can infect people in cold air 26 feet away, study found


According to a study that mimicked an outbreak in a food factory, coronavirus can travel more than eight meters in cold, moving air environments.

Researchers at the Helmholtz Center for Infection Research focused on an outbreak of Covid-19 in a slaughterhouse in Rheda-Wiedenbrück that infected 1,500 workers.

They found that a single person in the plant appeared to have infected several others within a 26 foot radius, which was possible due to the cold conditions and the constantly circulating air in the plant.

Similar conditions in plants around the world have resulted in them becoming epicentres of the virus, and at least five outbreaks have been registered in the UK.

The study raises concerns that the cooled, ventilated, and dark surroundings of factories and warehouses are ideal conditions for the virus to spread.

And it could also suggest that the virus could be a bigger problem in winter when more people spend time indoors and are close together in colder environments.

Scientists say that viruses survive longer when they're not exposed to sunlight, that people's airways are more susceptible to infection when they're cold, and that the virus can float in the air to infect people far from an infected patient.

To date, Covid-19 outbreaks have been reported at five locations in England and Wales

The investigation found that cool air, which circulated without frequent changes, combined with strenuous working conditions, helped virus particles to travel long distances.

Their recovery showed that the transmission of the virus took place in the German factory in a meat cutting area where the air was cooled to 10 ° C (50 ° F).

ARE MEAT AND FOOD FACTORY HOTSPOTS FOR THE CORONAVIRUS?

When news of food factories around the world where Covid-19 broke out became known, experts have suggested that conditions in the plants could be conducive to the spread of the virus.

Dr. Simon Clarke, a cellular microbiologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline that it was remarkable that food factories seemed to have been the center of outbreaks more than other factories where people could be close to one another.

He said: "There are problems in this country, in Germany, in the United States. They have something in common – it doesn't happen in machine factories or clothing factories, where you can also expect people to be in close proximity to each other.

“One assumes – but it's just an idea – that the cold environment makes people more susceptible to the virus.

"Cold weather irritates the airways and cells become more susceptible to viral infections."

Dr. Chris Smith, a virologist at Cambridge University, said about LBC: "Temperature will matter."

He said, “When I breathe, I blow out droplets of moisture from my airways and the virus that grows there would be packaged in the droplets.

"Now the droplets are suspended in the air for a while and then sink to the ground … and when it is very dry, cold air remains – and cold air carries less moisture – the droplets remain smaller and stay in the air longer.

"When it's very humid, moisture binds to them, making them bigger and heavier, and they fall and fall faster from the cycle – so temperature could be a factor."

Sunlight is also known to degrade viruses and make them less able to survive on surfaces exposed to UV light.

Sun rays are believed to damage the genetic material in the virus, reproduce it less, and kill it more quickly.

Professor Calum Semple, a disease outbreak specialist at the University of Liverpool, told The Telegraph that cold, sunless food factories are ideal conditions.

He said: "If I wanted to preserve a virus, I would put it in a cold, dark or cool environment without ultraviolet light – essentially in a refrigerator or a meat processor …

"The perfect place to keep a virus alive for a long time is a cold place without sunlight."

However, temperature alone does not appear to be a controlling factor in coronavirus outbreaks.

Dr. Michael Head, a global health researcher at the University of Southampton, said he thinks the proximity of the factory outbreaks is most likely in the immediate vicinity.

He said: “While cooling can help spread the virus, the key factors are likely to be the number of people who are close together in indoor conditions.

“Some of these factories have accommodations on site or nearby that have multiple people in each dormitory. They can be transported to the place of work by bus and are in the house all day.

"The level of compliance with measures such as hand washing is uncertain and it is unlikely that PPE will be used on a large scale."

Professor Adam Grundhoff, one of the authors of the study and a virologist at the Leibniz Institute for Experimental Virology, said: “Our results show that the conditions of the cutting process – the low temperature, low fresh air supply and constant air circulation through air conditioning in the hall , together with strenuous physical work – the aerosol transfer of SARS-CoV-2 particles over longer supported distances. & # 39;

Professor Grundhoff told Bloomberg: "It is very likely that these factors generally play a critical role in the global outbreaks in meat or fish processing plants."

Covid 19 outbreaks have been reported in at least five locations in England and Wales.

At a plant in Merthyr Tydfil, at least 34 people tested positive at the Kepak plant in June.

It happens after the entire island of Anglesey, where 70,000 people live, was threatened with closure when a chicken factory closed because 158 people tested positive for Covid-19.

In another outbreak at a food factory in Wrexham, at least 70 people tested positive.

The facility processes food for Rowan Foods, which supplies Sainsbury's, Asda, Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons, Aldi and Greggs from locations across the country.

Mobile test tents were erected outside of Kober Ltd near Cleckheaton, West Yorkshire, which supplies supermarket giant Asda with strips of bacon and joints after nearly 100 workers fell ill.

Dr. Simon Clarke, a cellular microbiologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline last month that it was remarkable that food factories seemed to be the center of outbreaks more than other factories where people could be close to one another.

He said: "There are problems in this country, in Germany, in the United States. They have something in common – it doesn't happen in machine factories or clothing factories, where you can also expect people to be in close proximity to each other.

“One assumes – but it's just an idea – that the cold environment makes people more susceptible to the virus.

"Cold weather irritates the airways and cells become more susceptible to viral infections."

Coronavirus spread quickly to meat factories in the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and South America, and some had to be shut down.

Dozens of workers have died as a result, and activists said a lack of social distance could continue to endanger people.

Outbreaks in US meat factories forced them to close earlier this year and led to meat shortages nationwide.

And China has continued to test its imported cold foods for corona virus, although science experts claim that foodborne transmission is extremely unlikely.

Melanie Brinkmann, professor at the Technical University of Braunschweig and head of the research group at the HZI, said: “Our study illuminates SARS-CoV-2 infections in a work area in which various factors meet that allow transmission over relatively long distances.

"The important question now is under what conditions transmission events over longer distances are possible in other areas of life."

About half of the meat factories in the United States are immigrants, according to the Center for Economic and Political Research, and come from relatively low-income families.

And minority workers at US plants are hardest hit by the outbreaks.

Data from May showed that 87 percent of the coronavirus cases in which race and ethnicity were recorded concerned minority workers.

The Toennies plant, Germany's largest pork slaughterhouse, reopened last week after a month of closure.

In addition, new measures to prevent future outbreaks have been introduced, including testing employees twice a week, hiring employees directly, and checking ventilation.

The report found that not a single Toennies factory in the world was built for a pandemic like the corona virus and the company has invested in air filters.

ARE MEAT AND FOOD FACTORY HOTSPOTS FOR THE CORONAVIRUS?

When news of food factories around the world where Covid-19 broke out became known, experts have suggested that conditions in the plants could be conducive to the spread of the virus.

Dr. Simon Clarke, a cellular microbiologist at the University of Reading, told MailOnline that it was remarkable that food factories seemed to have been the center of outbreaks more than other factories where people could be close to one another.

He said: "There are problems in this country, in Germany, in the United States. They have something in common – it doesn't happen in machine factories or clothing factories, where you can also expect people to be in close proximity to each other.

“One assumes – but it's just an idea – that the cold environment makes people more susceptible to the virus.

"Cold weather irritates the airways and cells become more susceptible to viral infections."

Dr. Chris Smith, a virologist at Cambridge University, said about LBC: "Temperature will matter."

He said, “When I breathe, I blow out droplets of moisture from my airways and the virus that grows there would be packaged in the droplets.

"Now the droplets are suspended in the air for a while and then sink to the ground … and when it is very dry, cold air remains – and cold air carries less moisture – the droplets remain smaller and stay in the air longer.

"When it's very humid, moisture binds to them, making them bigger and heavier, and they fall and fall faster from the cycle – so temperature could be a factor."

Sunlight is also known to degrade viruses and make them less able to survive on surfaces exposed to UV light.

Sun rays are believed to damage the genetic material in the virus, reproduce it less, and kill it more quickly.

Professor Calum Semple, a disease outbreak specialist at the University of Liverpool, told The Telegraph that cold, sunless food factories are ideal conditions.

He said: "If I wanted to preserve a virus, I would put it in a cold, dark or cool environment without ultraviolet light – essentially in a refrigerator or a meat processor …

"The perfect place to keep a virus alive for a long time is a cold place without sunlight."

However, temperature alone does not appear to be a controlling factor in coronavirus outbreaks.

Dr. Michael Head, a global health researcher at the University of Southampton, said he thinks the proximity of the factory outbreaks is most likely in the immediate vicinity.

He said: “While cooling can help spread the virus, the key factors are likely to be the number of people who are close together in indoor conditions.

“Some of these factories have accommodations on site or nearby that have multiple people in each dormitory. They can be transported to the place of work by bus and are in the house all day.

"The level of compliance with measures such as hand washing is uncertain and it is unlikely that PPE will be used on a large scale."

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