Can you smell your friend’s breath? Then you’re probably close enough catch Covid, an expert said today.
Scientist Dr Julian Tang said people should employ the "garlic-breath" test to measure if someone is too close and could transmit the virus.
The consultant virologist at Leicester Royal Infirmary has penned a new study that urges governments to "focus their efforts on airborne transmission".
Dr Tang suggested the emphasis on handwashing and sanitising was “wrong” and added: “The message 'hands, face, space', we think should be really 'space, space, hands'.”
He told Sky News: “The way this virus transmits is really through conversational distance, within one metre.
"When you're talking to a friend or sharing the same air as you're listening to your friend talking, we call it the garlic-breath distance.
"So if you can smell your friend's lunch you're inhaling some of that air as well as any virus that's inhaled with it.
"And this is why we say that masking is fine, social distancing is fine, but the indoor airborne environment needs to be improved and that can be done with ventilation."
Dr Tang suggested that improving indoor ventilation and opening windows could help reduce coronavirus transmission.
He added: “If you think about it, if you burn your toast in the kitchen, if you open the windows and doors, the back door, it clears very quickly.”
Tony Sophoclides, from trade body UK Hospitality, told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I think it is the case that [ventilation] has been a rather overlooked and very important point.
“Ventilation has always been built into the guidance and protocols that we compiled at the beginning of the pandemic on risk assessment and that very much informed the Government guidance.”
He said ventilation had been a “common practice” in hospitality venues for a long time.