A viral video of a black light experiment reveals just how quickly and easily the germs of a virus like COVID-19 can spread among people and on surfaces.

The experiment was produced by NHK, Japan’s national broadcasting organisation, in conjunction with health experts. It simulates a buffet restaurant space in which 10 participants are present and one is ‘infected’. A fluorescent substance, which is only visible under black light, represents the germs of the virus. The restaurant-goers continue a typical dinner experience in the video, not conscious of the potential threat of contamination.

When the black light is switched on, however, the ‘virus’ has spread throughout the room, from utensils to surfaces to body parts of some of the participants.

Watch the video here:

In another experiment, NHK simulated the exact same environment except with participants anticipating contamination and thus following necessary precautions. All participants washed their hands before and during eating, and frequently touched surfaces and utensils were either replaced or wiped down. When the black light was applied, none of the fluorescent substance had transferred from the ‘infected’ person to any other people or surfaces.

While this is a controlled, artificial experiment that only suggests the possibilty of infection, the video is still an important visual message to relay the importance of performing regular hand hygiene, especially now amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“What the video demonstrated, is that it will spread to surfaces and to people very efficiently,” John Nicholls, a clinical professor in pathology at Hong Kong University told CNN. “I think it really highlights the need of what people have been saying about hand hygiene to stop the spread of disease.”
Picture: screenshot from video

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