How does the ‘garlic breath test’ work? How does it help prevent the spread of Covid?

Coronavirus 'could be under control within months' says WHO

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Coronavirus is a pressing threat impacting countries around the globe. Lockdown easing took another step in the UK on Monday, April 12, meaning people were able to gather in new outdoor settings for the first time in months. An expert has hailed the “garlic breath test” as a vital tool to help slow the spread of the deadly virus, reiterating the importance of the Government’s social distancing messaging.

The latest NHS Test and Trace figures reveal 19,196 people tested positive for coronavirus in England once in the week to April 7.

This is down 34 percent on the previous week and is the lowest number seen since September 2, 2020.

Surge testing is due to begin in London after cases of the South African variant were detected.

Lockdown rules eased this week with pubs, restaurants, shops and outdoor attractions reopening after being closed for months, prompting many to express concern about a potential U-turn on the falling Covid prevalence rates.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week cautioned Britons in the aftermath of lockdown easing, reminding people the fall in the Covid infection rates was due to lockdown restrictions rather than vaccinations.

Mr Johnson said: “The numbers are down – of infections and hospitalisations and deaths.

“But it is very, very important for everybody to understand that the reduction in these numbers – in hospitalisations and in deaths and infections – has not been achieved by the vaccination programme.

“People don’t, I think, appreciate that it’s the lockdown that has been overwhelmingly important in delivering this improvement in the pandemic and in the figures that we’re seeing.

“And so, yes of course the vaccination programme has helped, but the bulk of the work in reducing the disease has been done by the lockdown.

“So, as we unlock, the result will inevitably be that we will see more infection, sadly we will see more hospitalisation and deaths, and people have just got to understand that.”

The Government has repeated the “hands, face, space” motto since the pandemic began.

This motto essentially urges people to wash their hands, use a face covering and ensure they maintain social distancing.

Dr Julian Tang, a consultant virologist at Leicester Royal Infirmary, today criticised the Government for its focusing on hand-washing and sanitising.

The virologist said the message should instead be “space, space, hands” because keeping distance is the most important and effective way to tackle the spread of the virus.

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How does the garlic breath test work and why is it important in the battle against the spread of Covid?

Dr Tang and the author of a new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), stressed that Governments and health leaders should “focus their efforts on airborne transmission”.

Dr Tang told Sky News: “So the message ‘hands, face, space’, we think should be really ‘space, space, hands’.

“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.”

The BMJ article emphasised the importance of aerosol transmission of the virus.

The article reads: “People are much more likely to become infected in a room with windows that can’t be opened or lacking any ventilation system.”

The report adds: “It is now clear that Sars-CoV-2 transmits mostly between people at close range through inhalation.

“This does not mean that transmission through contact with surfaces or that the longer-range airborne route does not occur, but these routes of transmission are less important during brief everyday interactions over the usual one-metre conversational distance.

“The transmission of Sars-CoV-2 after touching surfaces is now considered to be relatively minimal.”

The latest research shows fresh air can help to reduce your risk of infection from air particles by more than 70 percent.

Fresh air helps to dilute the viral particles and opening windows for short, sharp bursts during the day is the best way to tackle the risk.

Dr Tang said: “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.

“So you keep the windows open even halfway most of the time, then you can improve that ventilation rate in the indoor area and that reduces the overall airborne concentration that you can actually then reduce the risk of transmission from.”

He added: “We’ll see that impact once you start to open up indoor spaces.

“If one in two people have antibodies, that immune barrier will reduce that spread of the virus in the indoor environment where the ventilation is poorer and where people are closer together unmasked and talking and breathing the same air.”

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