Low humidity and drier air contribute to the transmission of the coronavirus, according to a study by researchers at the University of Sydney. The scientists found, for every 1% decrease in relative humidity, COVID-19 cases could jump by 7% or 8%.
According to The National Interest, this is the second study that confirms a relationship between humidity and the transmission of the virus, and “adds to a growing body of evidence that humidity is a key factor in the spread of COVID-19.”
Professor Michael Ward, of the University of Sydney, said we could face increased risks of coronavirus community transmission when humidity is low or when the air is dryer, according to a news release from the university.
“Dry air appears to favor the spread of COVID-19, meaning time and place become important,” Ward said. “Accumulating evidence shows that climate is a factor in COVID-19 spread, raising the prospect of seasonal disease outbreaks.”
Professor Ward explained drier air makes aerosol particles that are emitted when you cough or sneeze smaller and lighter so they can travel greater distances and stay suspended in the air longer.
“That increases the exposure for other people,” he said in the news release. “When the air is humid and the aerosols are larger and heavier, they fall and hit surfaces quicker.”
Ward added: “This suggests the need for people to wear a mask, both to prevent infectious aerosols escaping into the air in the case of an infectious individual and exposure to infectious aerosol in the case of an unaffected individual.”
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention also published research showed the coronavirus was more stable in low-temperature and low-humidity situations, whereas warm temperatures and higher humidity shortened the lifespan of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
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