Japanese Supercomputer Shows How Coronavirus Spreads In A Dining Setting

Earlier this month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revised its guidance to say that the Covid-19 virus can “linger in the air for minutes to hours” and occur between people spaced more than six feet apart.  

This followed a CDC study last month that found that adults with Covid-19 were twice as likely to have dined out at a restaurant within two weeks prior to being infected.

A new simulation from the Fugaku supercomputer in Japan demonstrates how the seating arrangement can make a difference to how easily the coronavirus is transmitted to dining companions at the same table. Recommended For You

Japanese researchers from Kobe University and the research giant Riken tasked Fugaku, the world’s fastest supercomputer, to model how the coronavirus spreads in a typical dining situation. The simulation shows the emission and flow of aerosol particles when four people are sitting a table and speaking without masks on.

The first takeaway from the Fugaku simulation is that the seating arrangement matters. When an infected individual speaks to dining companions seated across the table, four times as many exhaled aerosol droplets reach the person seated directly across the table compared to the person seated diagonally from the speaker.

The person seated next to an infected person is the most at risk. When an infected person turns his head sideways to speak to the dining companion next to him, that individual is exposed to more than five times the amount of exhaled droplets than the individual directly across the table from the speaker.

This research also implies that diners can further reduce risk by keeping face masks on when conversing before food arrives and after they have finished eating.

“When people with Covid-19 cough, sneeze, sing, talk, or breathe they produce respiratory droplets,” explains the CDC guidance. “These droplets can range in size from larger droplets (some of which are visible) to smaller droplets. Small droplets can also form particles when they dry very quickly in the airstream.”

A second takeaway from the same Japanese research is that humidity levels can have a significant impact on how easily droplets are transmitted. The scientists found that fewer droplets are dispersed when humidity is higher, which suggests that the use of humidifiers in indoor settings may help limit infections if window ventilation is not possible.

Public health experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, have expressed concern about dining in dry, heated indoor environments during the the winter months. “People will be spending more time indoors, and that’s not good for combating a respiratory-borne virus,” Fauci told MSNBC.

Toward that effort, the leaders of New York City and Chicago and other cities are creating initiatives to make outdoor dining a reality throughout the coming winter.

Fugaku is the product of a $1 billion, decade-long mission by several thousand developers from the government-run Riken Center for Computational Science and computer maker Fujitsu. Since the pandemic began, Fugaku has been creating simulations that demonstrate the ease with which the coronavirus spreads in various settings, including on trains, in work spaces and in classrooms.

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Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

I’m always looking for new ways to travel better, smarter, deeper and cheaper, and spend a lot of time watching trends at the intersection of travel and technology. As a longtime freelance travel writer, I’ve contributed hundreds of articles to Conde Nast Traveler, CNN Travel, Travel Leisure, Afar, Reader’s Digest, TripSavvy, Parade, NBCNews.com, Good Housekeeping, Parents, Parenting, Esquire, Newsweek, The Boston Globe and scores of other outlets. Over the years, I’ve run an authoritative family vacation-planning site; interviewed Michelin-starred chefs, ship captains, taxi drivers and dog mushers; reviewed hundreds of places to stay, from stately castles and windswept lighthouses to rustic cabins and kitschy motels; ridden the iconic Orient Express; basked in the glory of Machu Picchu; and much more. Follow me on Instagram (@suzannekelleher) and Flipboard (@SRKelleher).

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Nippon TV News 24 Japan 10.8K subscribers Researchers use the supercomputer Fugaku to simulate how droplets of the novel coronavirus spread. ********************** Subscribe to our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/NipponTVNew… Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NipponTVNews… ********************** #NipponTVNews24Japan#NTV#日テレ#Japannews#Japanvideo#Japan#Coronavirus#COVID19#Fugaku#Supercomputer#SupercomputerFugaku#coronavirusinfection#Riken#coronavirusresearch#coronavirusdroplet

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