Why keeping your cars off the road could help stop the spread of coronavirus

A recent study by two Italian universities claims pollution caused by vehicles could help the virus spread further and quicker.
By Sabyasachi Dasgupta
| Updated on: 24 Mar 2020, 11:43 AM
A deserted view of Signature bridge amid lockdown announced in Delhi due to Coronavirus.
A deserted view of Signature bridge amid lockdown announced in Delhi due to Coronavirus.

The air in all metro cities in India has seen pollution levels decrease by quite a bit, thanks to the lockdown due to coronavirus outbreak for the past few days. Besides industrial pollution, one of the biggest reasons for the reduction has been the vastly reduced number of vehicles on the road.

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According to a study, taking your cars off the road can not only help reducing pollution, but also help fight coronavirus.

It is not only about social distancing. The study, by two Italian universities in Bologna and Bari, claim that smog caused by pollution help carry the virus around much more than what we think.

The study says, “The new coronavirus would have been boosted in its propagation by air pollution and more precisely by certain fine particles very present in polluted areas of Wuhan, but also of Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna and other urban centers."

There are reports that ‘support the thesis that SARS-CoV-2 could survive in air suspension under certain conditions, including a high level of pollution.’ The study says that this could be one of the parameters explaining the astonishing speed at which Covid-19 spread in northern Italy.

The research conducted by Professor Leonardo Setti is based on a solid scientific literature which correlates the incidence of cases of viral infection with the concentrations of atmospheric particles, for example PM10 and PM2.5. These particles are known to function as a support, vector or transporter, for many chemical and biological contaminants, including viruses.

In addition, these same atmospheric particles can also allow certain viruses to survive up to several hours or even days, depending on atmospheric conditions, humidity favouring the virulence of viruses where usually high temperatures and solar radiation tend to inactivate viruses.

Also read: Why a clean, sanitised car cannot keep you safe from coronavirus

With reduced pollution, there is every chance that the chain can be broken and the virus stopped and isolated. In India, many states have already ordered lockdown and banned private vehicles off the road.

HT Auto also advocates 'stay-at-home' and social distancing policies in these trying times. Should you, however, find an absolutely urgent need to step out in your vehicle, here are some steps to ensure that you are safe and your car is free of germs.

First Published Date: 24 Mar 2020, 11:43 AM IST

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