Spaces that are crowded, closed or involve close contact are a perfect recipe for Covid-19 "superspreading".
This is according to the World Health Organisation (WHO), which has advised people to “avoid the 3cs”; closed space, crowded area and close contact/conversation.
“Outbreaks have been reported in restaurants, choir practices, fitness classes, nightclubs, offices and places of worship where people have gathered, often in crowded indoor settings where they talk loudly, shout, breathe heavily or sing,” says the WHO advisory.
Take for instance "Patient 31" in South Korea, who after attending a church service, was known as a "super spreader" because this singular event was the genesis of an outbreak and spike in cases in the country. By that time in February, 29 people had died and more than 4,500 others had been infected.
Back home, Kenya has witnessed almost similar incidents where more deaths and cases are being reported where people do not adhere to the Covid-19 containment measures, especially social gatherings. In the past two weeks of October, a sharp increase in Covid-19 cases has been reported in areas that hosted political rallies.
Covid 19 Time Series
Kisumu, Kisii, Nyeri, Embu and Kakamega counties have been of major interest to politicians in the past one month, interestingly two of the counties have been highly affected in the last 10 days.
Since October 24 to November 2, Kisumu has recorded 240 new infections while Kakamega County has 146 new cases. Kisii has seen a sharp rise in 110 new cases while Embu has 34 and Nyeri recorded 37 new infections.
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Data from the Ministry of Health as of October 30 shows that Kisumu has recorded 334 new cases in an average of two weeks and Trans Nzoia 189 new cases.
Embu, which had 218 cases on October 20, had 404 by the end of the month. What all these counties have in common is that they have hosted some major political gatherings.
The Covid-19 numbers in these counties are higher compared to counties that have not been grounds for political or public gatherings.
Dr Githinji Gitahi, CEO of Amref Health Africa, says that currently, the force of transmission is higher, therefore, one person is infecting many people, creating a need for certain measures to be put in place.
“You must reduce crowding, you must reduce close contact and you must reduce closed spaces as well as time spent in these spaces,” he says.
The coronavirus, which scientists have shown to be transmitted through respiratory droplets from person to person, will easily move from an infected person to the next if they are in such spaces for long periods of time.
According to the CDC, as the droplets travel further from the infected person, the concentration of these droplets decreases. “Larger droplets fall out of the air due to gravity, smaller droplets and particles spread apart in the air.”
In an Indian study published in Science, there is a 10 per cent chance of transmission of the virus from an infected individual to others whom he/she has had close contact or direct contact with. Such individuals can be responsible for 60 per cent of new infections.
The virus in crowded and poorly ventilated spaces can spread through respiratory droplets and aerosols. If people cannot avoid such spaces, they are advised to take precaution.
WHO recommends people keep at least one-metre distance between each other to avoid close contact. “The further away, the better,” says the world health body.