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Coronavirus Transmission and Superspreading Events: Can What We’ve Learned Help Inform Future Guidelines?

Coronavirus Transmission and Superspreading Events: Can What We’ve Learned Help Inform Future Guidelines?

Across the United States, businesses are starting to open under government-guided restrictions. The reopening guidelines vary from state to state and even from county to county based on statistical evidence of COVID-19 prevalence in the local areas. There has been much research focused on SARS-CoV-2 virus transmission, which is helping to inform the reopening guidelines: Social distancing of 6 feet, masking, plexiglass barriers, and various disinfecting practices are being implemented. At the June 8 COVID-19 media briefing of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead for the WHO COVID-19 response, generated a flurry of questions about asymptomatic COVID-19, in which viral transmission seems to be low, and she later needed to clearly distinguish that from presymptomatic COVID-19, in which viral transmission seems to be high.

There has also been a lot of discussion on superspreading events. These tend to be indoor mass gatherings with poor ventilation in which large groups of people are in close contact with others for longer than 10 minutestypically these events include speaking and/or singing, as may occur at concerts, sporting events, religious services, and conferences. Additionally, congregate living situations such as assisted living facilities, nursing homes, dormitories, and healthcare settings can be superspreading venues. Some of these venues and events have started reopening under strict guidelines so that social distancing and masking can be maintained.

Many people ask how they can continue to reduce their risk of contracting coronavirus while they re-enter society. It seems that part of the "new normal" will include more physical space and barriers, masking, hand washing and gelling, frequent high-touch surface disinfecting, and smart use of outdoor spaces. These guidelines sound reasonable and something we can all live with.

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Filed under: Infectious Diseases, Public Health

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