One of the measures proposed by the Dutch government to minimise the risk of spreading/acquiring the Covid-19 virus is keeping a distance of 1.5 meters from other people. Similar advice is given in other countries, see this related question.

I understand the mechanism: infected people spread droplets when they sneeze, cough or even speak, these droplets contain enough virus to infect a person that inhales a droplet or maybe rubs it in their eyes or mouth when they touch their face.

But is there any empirical evidence that standing 1.5 meters apart significantly reduces infection risk for airborne diseases? It does not have to be evidence on Covid-19 per se, the flu or the common cold would suffice.

  • 1
    There's a difference between "airborne" and "droplet". COVID-19 is primarily transmitted by respiratory droplets, which don't travel much more than 2 meters: they're big, heavy, and fall quickly. Measles, by contrast, is airborne: it travels in tiny particles which can go far and hang in the air for hours.
    – Charles
    Commented Mar 19, 2020 at 20:58
  • Thank you harles, i did not know about the difference. But so very little is known about Covid-19, do we know for sure it is not airborne?
    – Ivana
    Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 11:33
  • Out of droplet, airborne, and fecal-oral, airborne seems to be the least important transmission mode for COVID-19. Some (e.g., Paul Offit) argue that fecal-oral is the primary mode of transmission; most believe that it is respiratory droplet. It's widely believed that airborne transmission is possible, but no one thinks it's a major source of infection, and some think ir doesn't happen at all.
    – Charles
    Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 14:14
  • 1
    @Charles: see [ nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMc2004973 ] for stability of COVID-19 in aerosol
    – BobE
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 21:02
  • @BobE Thank you, very interesting! I don't have any explanation that would reconcile the empirical finding with the experimental data, but I'm sure it's been studied.
    – Charles
    Commented Mar 22, 2020 at 0:19


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