Once the nationwide lockdown was instated in South Africa, many locals had a problem with the regulations that stated jogging and walking dogs was not allowed, these rules have since chance under Level 4 regulations.
Residents are now allowed to jog, walk or walk their dogs within a 5km radius of their homes, but no group exercise is permitted.
A new study, however, is shedding some light on why these activities are not safe during the pandemic.
While a usual one to two metre distance is suitable for social distancing while shopping and doing other essential tasks under lockdown, a study by KU Leuven in Belgium and TU Eindhoven in Netherlands has revealed that this is unsuitable during walking, jogging or biking.
The standard distance of one to two metres is only effective when standing still. When rapid or continuous movement is involved, a “slipstream” is created that can easily carry germs from one person to another.
This coupled with heavier breathing during physical strain or a sneeze can leave particles behind in the air that flows directly behind the person and possibly into another person.
Researchers reached this conclusion after simulating the occurrence of saliva particles from a person during movement.
Usually athletes can improve their performance by staying in each other’s slipstreams but the study suggests it creates the opportunity for the virus to transfer from one person to another.
The results of the tests can be seen in the above model. A cloud of droplets is clearly left behind by the foremost runner and encountered by the second.
“People who sneeze or cough spread droplets with a bigger force, but also people who just breathe will leave particles behind”. The red dots on the image represent the biggest particles. These create the highest chance of contamination but also fall down faster. “But when running through that cloud they still can land on your clothing,” says Professor Bert Blocken, a researcher involved in the study.
According to the study, people walking should maintain at least a four to five metre distance to effectively prevent infection, this distance should be extended to 10 or 20 metres when running or riding a bike at a speed.
While many feel local parks and beaches could have remained open during the lockdown, its seems infection could be far more likely in these areas especially with the help of strong winds.