Researchers have checked the effectiveness of the common protective measures against corona in Austria and come to the conclusion.
Mask, ventilation, keeping your distance make sense. On the other hand, a particularly high risk of infection was identified in rooms in which people speak loudly and are poorly ventilated, according to the interim results of the project. The Covid-19 simulator, a computer-based aerosol and movement tool from PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) Austria, examines the effectiveness of protective measures in public spaces. An interdisciplinary research team calculated, among other things, the risk of infection in a real classroom of the Samaritan Association in different situations. The first results are: In all scenarios in which measures were taken – wearing a mask, ventilating regularly and keeping your distance – the risk of infection was significantly reduced.
The risk depends on the specific situation
The risk depends on the specific situation, it was emphasized: “Speaking loudly in open areas can lead to infections at distances of over two meters,” the researchers said. With poor ventilation in open areas where people talk a lot and loudly (e.g. in a call center), the likelihood of asymptomatic people infecting others is very high – even if they are sitting up to seven meters away from the infected person. Partition walls are hardly effective in this case.
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In well-ventilated rooms and when working quietly in certain constellations, masks would have no significant influence on the infection process. The request, however, to lower one’s voice or only speak loudly in a separate, ventilated room, “could reduce the probability of infecting at least one other person to below one percent”.
The simulations would also provide recommendations for leisure facilities such as stadiums or ski areas, said Gerald Dipplinger, project manager and partner at PwC Austria. “It is not the amount of contacts that is decisive, but their quality. While those situations are particularly critical in which the air cannot circulate and no distance can be maintained, the risk of infection in the area of ski lifts should be significantly lower,” he said.
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Simulator is based on crowd simulations
The Covid-19 simulator funded by the City of Vienna as part of the Innovate4Vienna project is based on crowd simulations. After creating a virtual room, the model is filled with animated actors, parameters that are as realistic as possible and the measures to be tested. The consideration of movement, the randomness of human behavior and the effect of different interior designs is a decisive difference to purely mathematical models, it was emphasized. In cooperation with the Samariterbund and the AIT Center for Technology Experience, the computer model is continuously developed.
A central core of the research is the question of the extent to which detailed visualizations of the risk of infection affect the behavior of those affected by the measures. An acceptance study by the project partner AIT Austrian Institute of Technology should provide information as to whether the understanding of protective measures increases after interaction with the computer model.
“As long as there is still no nationwide vaccine in Austria, we must continue to identify effective and, above all, individually tailored protective measures. This applies to companies as well as public institutions and facilities. This is the only way we can maintain operations in times of the pandemic and at the same time prevent another lockdown, “said Dipplinger.