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Respiratory infectious disease transmission 3x higher in enclosed spaces — Korea study

Transmission risks of respiratory infectious diseases could be up to three times higher in confined spaces than open spaces, a Korean study has found.

The research duo – Moon Jin-young, a medical resident at the Seoul St Mary’s Hospital’s Occupation and Environmental Medicine department, and Ryu Byung-han, a professor at the Internal Medicine department at the Gyeongsang National University Changwon Hospital – analysed 147 articles published until December 2020 concerning respiratory infectious diseases’ transmission risks.

According to the Korea BioMedical Review, the team found that the transmission risk in all types of confined spaces was about three times higher than in open areas.

Specifically, the relative risk of infection was 3.94 times higher in the workplace or school, 3.23 times higher in hospitals, 3.08 times higher in airplanes, 2.63 times higher in residential spaces, and 2.17 times higher in passenger ships or navy ships.

The researchers grouped similar pathogens to analyse the transmission risk in indoor spaces more accurately. “This study is the first to quantitatively analyse the risk of the transmission of COVID-19 by droplets and air in various types of space. In addition, it is meaningful in that the study systematically analysed the transmission risk by all respiratory pathogens in confined spaces,” said Moon.

The health authorities should particularly consider the possibility of the “balloon effect”, where a lockdown of one space leads to a concentration of people in another area, he noted.


Korea Biomedical Review article – Transmission risk 3 times higher in workplace than navy ship (Open access)


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