The experiment highlights one way the virus could rapidly spread on surfaces, though close contact with an infected person is the most common method of transmission

By Claudia Harmata
May 14, 2020

A new video going viral in Japan shows just how quickly germs and viruses like the coronavirus (COVID-19) can spread in a restaurant where just one person is infected.

In the video, Japanese researchers conduct a blacklight experiment and simulate the atmosphere of a buffet-style restaurant, where guests serve themselves from shared meal trays. The experiment was conducted by the public broadcasting organization NHK along with health experts, CNN reports.

Ten people were brought into the "restaurant" with one person identified as the "infected" individual. This person was given invisible fluorescent paint on one of their hands, according to Now This.

NowThis News/ Youtube

Each participant went about serving themselves at the buffet as they normally would, without any fear or consideration of potential contamination.

They ate and socialized for 30 minutes before researchers cast a blacklight over them, illuminating where the virus had spread.

Under the light, the invisible paint could be seen on food, all over the serving utensils and food platters, and even on the clothes and faces of some of the participants.

"What the video demonstrated, is that it will spread to surfaces and to people very efficiently," John Nicholls, a clinical professor in pathology at Hong Kong University, told CNN, "and I think it really highlights the need of what people have been saying about hand hygiene to stop the spread of disease."

NowThis News/ Youtube

While this experiment can be alarming as states across the Unites States begin phases of reopening, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention maintains that the virus is spread mainly from person-to-person through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.

"It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes," said the CDC.  "This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus."

Nicholls added that a more effective experiment would be to see the same scenario play out after the "infected" person washes their hands.

"So the general public gets some concept of the mechanism of how much the use of hand washing can actually reduce the transmission of potentially infectious material," Nicholls explained.

The information in this story is accurate as of press time. However, as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to evolve, it's possible that some data have changed since publication. While Health is trying to keep our stories as up-to-date as possible, we also encourage readers to stay informed on news and recommendations for their own communities by using the CDCWHO, and their local public health department as resources.

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