Health

Coronavirus | Dining out raises risk of infection, reports U.S. study

Representational image.   | Photo Credit: K.V.S. Giri

Restaurant and pub exposure were cited as important risk factors associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection, according to an analysis by the U.S. Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (U.S.CDC).

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The study published last week, cautioned that while it is well established that community and close contact exposures contribute to the spread of COVID-19, and said that close contact with persons with known COVID-19 or going to locations that offer on-site eating and drinking options were associated with COVID-19 positivity. The study is significant as India eases restrictions including on restaurants, dining out and weddings.

Adults with positive SARS-CoV-2 test results were approximately twice as likely to have reported dining at a restaurant 14 days prior to getting the infection than were those with negative results, says the study.

“This investigation highlights differences in community and close contact exposures between adults who received a positive SARS-CoV-2 test result and those who received a negative SARS-CoV-2 test result. Continued assessment of various types of activities and exposures as communities, schools, and workplaces reopen is important. Exposures and activities where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, including going to locations that offer on-site eating and drinking, might be important risk factors for COVID,” said the study.

Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

The study suggests that efforts should be made to reduce possible exposure to situations where mask use and social distancing are difficult to maintain, such as when eating and drinking. This should be considered to protect customers, employees, and communities.

The CDC report states that reports of exposures in restaurants have been linked to air circulation too.

“Direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance. Masks cannot be effectively worn while eating and drinking, whereas shopping and numerous other indoor activities do not preclude mask use,” states the report.

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The study was conducted by researchers from the CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service, along with those from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, and Hennepin County Medical Center, among others.

The researchers looked at COVID patients and a non-COVID control group to link specific community activities such as shopping, visiting a salon, a gym etc. to the likelihood of getting the infection. The aim was to assess the relative risks of various levels of opening up — such as restarting schools, colleges and public transport — in the spread of the disease.

State-wise tracker for coronavirus cases, deaths and testing rates

The study looked at symptomatic outpatients from 11 U.S. health care facilities, and involved a comparison between COVID patients with a control group comprising symptomatic patients who tested negative for SARS-CoV-2.

However, the researchers say the findings in this report are subject to at least five limitations, including the fact that the question assessing dining at a restaurant did not distinguish between indoor and outdoor options. In addition, the question about going to a bar or coffee shop did not distinguish between the venues or service delivery methods, which might represent different exposures.


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Printable version | Nov 29, 2021 9:24:14 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/health/dining-out-raises-risk-of-infection-reports-us-study/article32593014.ece

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