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What is a safe distance to keep from someone sneezing nearby? Just how far is far enough?

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) found that the droplets produced by sneezing are able to travel pretty well, especially through gas clouds. The largest droplets were found to travel about 1-2 metres from the source, while smaller evaporating droplets can travel up to 8 metres from its point of origin! However, separate similar studies done in Singapore concluded that "influenza may not be particularly transmissible by the aerosol route in most circumstances", even when large droplets were detected and tested.

Drawing on the results of the study in Singapore, Professor Paul Tambyah from the Department of Medicine concluded that "few of those particles we inhale or ingest actually end up causing disease".

"The body has plenty of mechanisms to prevent infection such as the normal host immune response or our instinctive response to wipe away someone else’s snot if they sneeze on us. That is the normal response in most societies with good reason!" adds Prof Tambyah.

Common viruses carried by children are also less of a threat to adults, as most adults would already be immune to the common childhood viruses circulating in the country, especially if they grew up here in Singapore. What a relief!

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