A video simulation from Japan has gone viral, as it proves how quickly a virus can spread at a restaurant from just one infected person.
The study included a buffet setup that you would find in a typical restaurant or cruise ship. Public broadcasting company NHK, along with medical experts, conducted the experiment with 10 participants. One participant was assigned the role of the infected person and a fluorescent lotion was applied to their hands. This lotion can only be seen with a blacklight and represented virus transfer after a sneeze or cough. All participants are invited to grab food from the buffet and are unaware a person is infected. About 30 minutes after they have eaten, the blacklight is turned on and participants can see every place the virus has transferred. The lotion used to simulate an “infection” appears on utensils, plates, food and the faces of a few participants.
Johns Hopkins University has reported a little over 16,000 cases of COVID-19 in Japan and about 678 deaths. Worldwide, there are more than 4.3 million cases and deaths have surpassed 297,000.
A Word from Experts
This is just one of the many studies being conducted to understand how quickly the virus can infect others and how hand washing can help tremendously.
Professor John Nicholls from Hong Kong University said, ”What the video demonstrated is that it will spread to surfaces and to people very efficiently and I think it really highlights the need of what people have been saying about hand hygiene to stop the spread of disease.”
However, he does state that the study isn’t very realistic, as the large amount of fluorescent lotion doesn’t accurately depict the infection that would transfer to someone’s hands.
Infection disease specialist Kentaro Iwata from Kobe University agrees with Nicholls. Iwata said, ”The experiment just described the possibility of the spread by contact, and that is not proof of what happened, so the distinction has to be clearly made between what could happen and what did happen.” He argues that we don’t know if this is what happened on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.
A second study was conducted by NHK where an infection was known and precautions were put in place. All participants washed their hands prior to eating and during. Surfaces were cleaned during service and utensils were replaced. In the end, the infection did not spread with the blacklight test. Experts agree that the study demonstrated how hand washing and sanitary practices can strongly reduce the spread of infection.