A new study set to be published in the CDC’s Emerging Infectious Diseases journal reveals that nine people who tested positive for the coronavirus may have been infected by an air conditioner, People reports. The infected group dined at a restaurant in China where another diner was already infected with the virus, but was asymptomatic at that time. The study authors speculate that the restaurant’s air conditioning system recycled the virus particles through the room. Those infected were sitting at various tables, and not all were directly next to the person who was carrying the virus.
Researchers said, “Strong airflow from the air conditioner could have propagated droplets from table C to table A, then to table B, and then back to table C.” An additional 73 people who dined in the restaurant that day, as well as eight employees, were tested and were not positive. “To prevent the spread of the virus in restaurants, we recommend increasing the distance between tables and improving ventilation,” the researchers suggested.