Runners can infect you with COVID-19 even if you’re 2m away

We've been advised by experts to "steer clear" of runners during lockdown because of the higher chances of being sprayed with virus droplets by those exercising.

Now a video graphic has revealed infected particles from a runner can travel further than expected - more than two metres.

Current Federal Government advice instructs Australians to keep 1.5m away from others at all times.

Tech company Ansys created a video which demonstrates how you could come into contact with droplets of COVID-19 while walking, running or cycling behind another person.

Running behind someone else, even at the ‘safe’ distance can leave you covered in particles. Picture: Ansys
Running behind someone else, even at the ‘safe’ distance can leave you covered in particles. Picture: Ansys

Marc Horner, the principal engineer for healthcare at Ansys, said running side-by-side could be less risky than in single file, as you are far less likely to be struck with any potentially infected fluids.

"If someone coughs, those droplets are suspended in the air and, if you are six feet behind, you are going to run right into them and it doesn't give them enough time to fall to the ground," he told the MailOnline.

"The droplets go straight out and go behind you so if you're next to someone - ignoring wind conditions - it won't hit you."

The informative and slightly terrifying graphics come after Australian journalist and medical professional Dr Norman Swan explained on ABC's Coronacast that he "steers clear" of runners because of the alarming levels of risky body secretions.

"If joggers invade your personal space they are flicking whatever secretions they've got," he said.

While he wasn't sure if coronavirus had been found in sweat just yet, he said it has been located in stools and other bodily fluids, so he suggests avoiding contact sweat too.

However his biggest concern when it came to runners who don't adhere to social distancing isn't the sweat - it's their breath.

The experts suggest running side-by-side instead as a safer option, but still maintain your social distance. Picture: Ansys
The experts suggest running side-by-side instead as a safer option, but still maintain your social distance. Picture: Ansys

"Sweat isn't the only secretion you emit when you're in physical extremist jogging down the road," he said.

"As you're breathing up and breathing fast, if you've got virus there you are more likely to be aerosolising it," Dr Swan added.

"When I'm out running I steer clear of other people and I certainly steer clear of runners coming towards me because these in a sense project that bigger tidal volume, that bigger depth of breathing and rapid breathing, if they had COVID-19 then they could actually be spraying it out more than normal."

Amy Treakle, an infectious disease specialist with the Polyclinic in Seattle, issued another warning over a habit many joggers have - spitting.

"COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets when a person coughs or sneezes, and transmission may occur when these droplets enter the mouths, noses, or eyes of people who are nearby," she told fitness publication Bicyling.

"Spit contains saliva but could also contain sputum from the lungs or drainage from the posterior nasopharynx."

Dr Michael Head, a senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton issued a helpful trick for runners to help keep their distance, saying you need roughly the length of two standard supermarket trolleys between you.

Continue the conversation @RebekahScanlan | rebekah.scanlan@news.com.au

Originally published as How runners can infect you from 2m away

It comes after an Australian doctor advised people to ‘steer clear’ of runners because those exercising breathe more deeply. Picture: Ansys
It comes after an Australian doctor advised people to ‘steer clear’ of runners because those exercising breathe more deeply. Picture: Ansys


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