Restaurant air con spread virus from one diner to NINE others

Restaurant’s air conditioning spread coronavirus from one infected diner to NINE others, report finds

  • Researchers investigate incident at eatery in Guangzhou, China, in January
  • An asymptomatic customer later fell ill, along with others on nearby tables
  • Study claims virus was carried further than usual due to venue’s air conditioning
  • However 81 others eating and working inside the building remained unaffected  
  • Learn more about how to help people impacted by COVID

Air conditioning was the reason why coronavirus spread from one infected diner to nine others in a Chinese restaurant, a study has claimed.

However, none of the other 81 people inside came down with the virus, according to findings.

The paper, set to be published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal produced by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, investigates an incident at an eatery in Guangzhou in January, where a family had arrived from Wuhan – the city where the Covid-19 pandemic began.

Coronavirus spread from one infected diner in Guangzhou, China to nine others back in January. Pictured: A restaurant (stock image)

Daily life in Guangzhou, pictured, is slowly returning to normal after the coronavirus pandemic

Guangzhou has been largely deserted, pictured, for weeks during the Covid-19 outbreak

Researchers say one member of that family had an asymptomatic case, and barely two weeks later, the patient along with nine others, including members of their family, as well as two other groups on nearby tables in the restaurant, had all become ill with the virus. 

The affected tables in the windowless venue were around a metre away from each other as the authors claim the most likely cause of this outbreak was droplet transmission.

However, they say that droplets only remain in the air for a short time and only travel short distances, therefore, they concluded, the air conditioner was likely to have spread the virus further between the affected tables. 

They added: ‘To prevent spread of Covid-19 in restaurants, we recommend strengthening temperature-monitoring surveillance, increasing the distance between tables, and improving ventilation.’

Temporary temperature checkpoints, pictured, have been set up near residential buildings in Guangzhou

Droplets only remain in the air for a short time and only travel short distances, therefore, researchers concluded, an air conditioner, pictured, was likely to have spread the virus further between the affected tables

It comes amid growing uncertainty over when pubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen post-lockdown.

William Schaffner, professor of infectious diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, told Business Insider the research is a good resource to help understand what the future may look like.

‘We are going to open back up,’ he said. ‘But the trick will be to open, slowly, do it in a phased fashion. 

‘And of the phases includes opening restaurants and doing so at half capacity, spacing out the seats.’

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