Researchers have checked the effectiveness of common protection measures against corona in Austria and come to the conclusion: mask, ventilation, keeping a distance makes sense. On the other hand, according to the interim results of the project, a particularly high risk of infection was found in areas where people speak loudly and are poorly ventilated.
The Covid-19 simulator, a computer-based aerosol and movement tool from PwC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) Austria, investigates the effectiveness of protective measures in public areas. An interdisciplinary research team calculated, among other things, the chance 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 a distance – the infection risk was significantly reduced.
The risk depends on the specific situation
The risk depends on the specific situation, it was emphasized: “Speaking loudly in open spaces can lead to infections at distances of more than two meters,” said the researchers. With poor ventilation in open spaces where people talk a lot and loudly (for example, in a call center), asymptomatic people are likely to infect others – even if they are within seven meters of the infected person. Partition walls are hardly effective in this case.
In well-ventilated areas and when working quietly in certain set-ups, masks would have no significant influence on the infection process. A request to lower his voice or only speak loudly in a separate, ventilated room, “could reduce the chance of infecting at least one other person to less than one percent”.
The simulations would also provide recommendations for recreational facilities such as stadiums or ski areas, said Gerald Dipplinger, project manager and partner at PwC Austria. “It is not the number of contacts that is critical, but their quality. While those situations are particularly critical where air cannot circulate and distance cannot be maintained, the risk of infection in the ski lift area should be significantly lower” , he said.
Simulator is based on mass 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 space, 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 arbitrariness of human behavior and the effect of different interior designs is a decisive difference from purely mathematical models, it was emphasized. The computer model is continuously being developed in collaboration with the Samariterbund and the AIT Center for Technology Experience.
Central to the research is the question to what extent detailed visualisations of the risk of infection influence the behavior of those affected by the measures. An acceptance study by the project partner AIT Austrian Institute of Technology should provide information on whether the understanding of protective measures increases after interaction with the computer model.
As long as there is no nationwide vaccine in Austria, we must continue to find effective and above all individually tailored protection measures. This applies to companies as well as public institutions and facilities. This is the only way we can continue operations in times of the pandemic while preventing another lockdown, ‘said Dipplinger.
Maintenance: Current simulations: https://youtu.be/rISSfdrZTeo – Information about the Covid-19 simulator: http://go.apa.at/qiMgXUJb