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Infection risk is 10 to 20 times lower when meeting outside

Credit: Belga

As the expansion of people’s outdoor social bubble is on the agenda of the Consultative Committee today, health officials stressed that while the risk of infection outside is a lot lower, it still exists.

Most research shows that the infection risk is 10 to 20 times lower when meeting outdoors, according to virologist and interfederal Covid-19 spokesperson Steven Van Gucht.

“It is safer outdoors than indoors, but that does not mean there is no risk at all,” he said during a press conference. “Small droplets, also called aerosols, can infect people both indoors and outdoors, but they have a smaller chance of infecting someone outdoors because they evaporate quickly.”

“Inside, small droplets can be infectious, both over short and long distances, as they hang like a cloud in front of your mouth,” he said. “If two people are sitting next to each other, and one person turns around to speak to the other, a cloud of thick and thin droplets hits them in the face.”

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“When we stay in a poorly ventilated room for a long time, small droplets can also become infectious over a long distance – they float like cigarette smoke,” Van Gucht added.

However, people standing close to each other to have a conversation can still infect each other even if they are outside. “It depends on the duration, density and number of contacts,” he said.

“If you meet up with friends outside, do so in a limited circle and try to avoid crowded places so you can keep your distance,” Van Gucht said. “Infections usually happen before or after an organised activity, or when carpooling.”

The Consultative Committee meeting to discussing possible relaxations and perspectives starts at 2:00 PM, and afterwards, a press conference will be held to announce the latest changes. An overview of what will be discussed can be found here.

Maïthé Chini
The Brussels Times

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