The Covid-19 pandemic has led researchers to look for all the potential sources of the virus and the reasons behind its spread in order to figure out a solution to this virus. 

There are all sorts of research papers that talk about different things the virus is spreading from. Ranging from your credit card to your shoes, the researchers seem to have tracked it all. But as summers are approaching in India, there might be another challenge waiting for all of us.

Experts in a research paper in China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention have cited an unusual incident of three families who got infected with the Novel Coronavirus without coming in contact with each other. 

The incident is unusual because these three families had no contact whatsoever and no one else in the whole restaurant was infected. After some research, the experts found that the families were infected through the air flow of the air conditioner.  

Representational Image

The outbreak happened at a restaurant in Guangzhou where these families were dining. One of the families had travelled to Guangzhou from Wuhan and a member of their family was the unknowing asymptomatic carrier of the virus. 

Days later, nine others who dined at the restaurant started showing symptoms of coronavirus. Seventy three other diners and staff of the restaurant were not infected. It is believed that the virus travelled through the air conditioner duct at the restaurant and infected three families sitting in the vicinity of each other who never engaged with the other.

Representational Image

It is concluded that three families were infected by the one index patient belonging to ‘Family A’. This family with the index patient has been named by the Chinese experts as ‘Family A’ while the two other families are ‘Family B’ and ‘Family C’.

Out of the nine infected who dined at the restaurant on 24th January, the 63-year old woman of Family A is believed to be the infected. Later, on the same day, she started coughing and developed a fever and was later tested positive for coronavirus.

Two weeks later, four of her family members and others from Family B and C were also tested positive for the virus.

What’s the AC logic? 

The researchers say the infections show the virus was spread through droplets carried in the air-conditioning draught. An air conditioner placed above Family C’s table blew air over the three tables in a southward direction where it hit the wall and returned. 

The lack of infection in others at two tables close by, but not in the line of the air flow, and in other floors of the restaurant appeared to suggest that the virus did not spread through “aerosol transmission”.

If a virus spreads as an aerosol, it is harder to contain since it lingers in the air for longer and disperses more easily over longer distances.  

According to the NYT report, experts believe this case and other such cases will likely change dining patterns and the practice of eating out in the post-pandemic world.