Is it safe to exercise outdoors with the Delta variant on the loose?
Dr. MK Tan from the Tung Shin Hospital has gone viral on WhatsApp because he warned of the dangers of exercising outdoors with the Delta variant out there.
Have a listen, and find out what the FACTS really are!
Dr. MK Tan : Not Safe To Exercise Outdoors With Delta Variant Out There
A voice message with advice on the Delta variant, attributed to Dr. MK Tan from the Tung Shin Hospital, has gone viral on WhatsApp.
The voice message basically advises people not to exercise outdoors, b because of the risk of catching the highly-contagious Delta variant.
Fr Dr MK Tan, Tung Shin Hospital
Delta Variant Or Not : It Is Safe To Exercise Outdoors By Yourself
I have no idea if it’s really Dr. MK Tan in that voice message, or if there is such a doctor in the Tung Shin Hospital, and my Cantonese is horrible.
But I will go through a few of the claims in the voice message, and tell you what the facts really are…
Claim #1 : COVID-19 Spreads By Droplets
Verdict : True
The SARS-CoV-2 virus, whether it’s the original variant or one of the new variants, spreads primarily by droplets.
However, we now know that it can also spread by aerosol – ultra-fine particles that stay suspended in the air.
So SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – has some airborne transmission capability.
Claim #2 : COVID-19 Cannot Spread Through Monetary Notes
Verdict : Not Really True
Fomite transmission – getting infected through contaminated objects – is now considered to be low risk, but not improbable.
You will not get COVID-19 from touching contaminated monetary notes. However, you can get COVID-19 if you touch the contaminated notes and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth.
That’s why it is important to maintain hand hygiene by washing your hands with soap or a hand sanitiser before touching your face.
It also helps to wear a face shield, as it prevents you from touching your face.
Read more : COVID-19 : Hand Sanitiser or Soap? Which Is Better?
Read more : How To DIY Your Own Face Shield Against COVID-19
Claim #3 : It Takes Longer To Confirm Delta Variant
Verdict : True
Current rt-PCR diagnostic tests for COVID-19 cannot differentiate the viral variants.
A whole-genome sequencing test, or a genotyping PCR test, is required to determine if the virus is of the original variant, or the Delta variant.
Claim #4 : Delta Variant Stays Airborne Outdoors For Six Hours
Verdict : False
I should point out that all SARS-CoV-2 variants, not just the Delta variant, have some airborne transmission capability.
One study showed that aerosolised SARS-CoV-2 virus can persist and remain infective in the air for up to 16 hours.
However, that was a lab study of aerosol suspended in an enclosed space, and should be considered as a “worst case scenario” and is not reflective of real world conditions.
There is no evidence that the Delta variant has better airborne transmission capability, or the ability to persist in the air outdoors for six hours.
What we know so far is that the Delta variant is more contagious, and is able to infect someone with just a few seconds of close contact!
Claim #5 : Delta Variant Makes It Dangerous To Exercise Outdoors
Verdict : False
It is true that the Delta variant is highly infectious, especially when people do not wear a face mask. However, the risk exists for ALL variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
However, the greatest risk comes from being in poorly ventilated indoor settings, where suspended aerosols can persist for minutes or even hours.
Exercising outdoors is relatively safe, because aerosols are quickly blown away.
While it is plausible to breathe in aerosols from someone passing by, or running ahead of you, they have to be pretty close.
In the recent Sydney case, a person was infected with the Delta variant by a stranger passing by within 10-15 cm.
Even though it was just a few seconds, that close distance put the victim within the infectious person’s “airspace”.
If you must exercise outdoors, you must maintain COVID-19 precautions as much as possible :
- If it’s not possible to wear a face mask while exercising, try wearing a face shield
- Put on your face mask before you “overtake” or “pass” someone else
- Try to maintain a distance of 3-4 metres or more from other people while exercising.
- If someone is approaching, try to move to the other side of the road.
Please DO NOT exercise in a group, even if you are from the same household. It puts you in legal jeopardy as it is against the SOP, and it may encourage others to do the same or worse – approach you to chit chat or exercise together!
Claim #6 : It Is Important To Maintain COVID-19 Precautions
Verdict : True
It is absolutely true that you should maintain COVID-19 precautions like :
- wear a face mask
- wear a face shield
- maintain social distancing
The Delta variant is not only highly-infectious, it has partial resistance to vaccines and can cause breakthrough infections. So it is critical to maintain COVID-19 precautions even if you are fully vaccinated.
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
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