Evidence has suggested COVID-19 can be transmitted via faeces, begging the question if the same is true for farts.
The proposition was put to Dr Norman Swan, an Australian physician, in an episode of ABC’s Coronacast podcast, during which he explained farts weren’t entirely innocent when it came to spreading the virus.
To avoid potentially transmitting the disease via faecal particles, people should not pass wind without their underwear and pants on, Dr Swan said.
“Luckily we wear a mask which covers our farts all the time,” he said, referring to clothing.
“A policy on the entire population should be, don’t fart close to other people and don’t fart with your bottom bare.”
The question came after Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the government would begin community wastewater testing for coronavirus to help detect areas where the disease is prominent.
CSIRO Chief Executive Dr. Larry Marshall said the testing should identify infection hotspots without needing to test every individual in a specific location.
“This will give the public a better sense of how well we are containing this pandemic,” Dr Marshall said.
Mr Hunt said the surveillance pilot program was extremely encouraging.
“A national program based on this work could add to the broader suite of measures our government can use in the identification and containment of COVID-19,” he said.
Researchers from The University of Queensland and the CSIRO are developing the test, which finds genetic traces of the illness in raw sewage.
It's hoped it will not only identify specific areas where COVID-19 is present, but also the approximate number of infected people.
The scientists successfully detected SARS-CoV2 - the virus that leads to the disease COVID-19 - in untreated sewage from two plants in southeast Queensland.
The RNA fragments they found would have been shed by infected people in the region.
“This is a major development that enables surveillance of the spread of the virus through Australian communities,” UQ health sciences Professor Kevin Thomas said.
Dr Swan earlier this month warned Australians the virus could also be spread through sweat, and encouraged people to keep their distance when in areas highly populated by joggers.
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