Staying safe as COVID-19 restrictions lift

Staying safe as COVID-19 restrictions lift
Moai Team
Moai Team

At Moai, our research explores COVID-19 transmission vectors to help us understand how we can best use non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) to prevent disease propagation. Our researchers have designed a survey which aims to gain valuable insights from users of our contact tracing app about the environments they visit.

So what are the questions it asks, why are they important, and why will considering these factors help you to keep safe?

As restrictions ease many people are looking forward to socialising again

One year on from our first national lockdown, and what has been a challenging year for many, it’s finally starting to feel like there is a light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. But as the world opens up and the vaccine programme continues to be rolled out around the world, it’s natural to be nervous about starting to resume our old ways of social interaction.

The Moai survey questions are a good guide for what to consider as you head back out

Our contact tracing app gathers information via a short survey to help us understand the spread of COVID-19 and mitigate risk as we try to live more normally alongside this new virus. Data inputted from users will contribute to vital research into what kinds of NPIs are most effective to help us transition back into living more like we used to. But you can also use the survey questions as a guideline for what to look out for and how to keep safe as you start going out again.

Do you have any risk factors?

Risk factors for COVID-19 include medical conditions that may cause complications for people who contract the virus. These are the groups of people who have been asked to ‘shield’ during the pandemic and are prioritised for receiving a COVID-19 vaccine. (Detailed information about risk factors can be found on the NHS website.

It’s likely that, by now, most ‘at risk’ people will have at least received their first jab, but it’s still worth bearing in mind if you’re in a vulnerable group, or if you’ll be coming into contact with somebody who is.

Who are you interacting with?

Because COVID-19 spreads via close contact with others, we know that the more people you interact with, the higher the chances are for transmission. Over the last few months, we’ve been restricted to socialising with our household or support bubbles, but now we can mix with up to six people outside. If you’re meeting friends for a walk or a picnic, it’s worth considering their circumstances and how many people they might have had close contact with.

What type of venue is it?

For now, we are only mixing outdoors, but if the government’s current plan goes ahead, we’ll be able to start visiting other venues in the coming months. When making plans you might want to think about the size of the venue, how crowded it is likely to be and if there is any outdoor space.

What activities are taking place?

Because COVID-19 spreads via droplets from an infected person, activities with or near people that cause heavy breathing pose a higher risk. For example, panting caused by physical exercise or singers projecting their voices. If you do want to do a gym class or watch a choir performance, look out for options that are open air to mitigate risk.

What is the airflow like?

The airflow in a space, and even the humidity level of the air, may also affect the spread of COVID-19 because it affects how droplets and aerosols are able to move through the air - it’s thought that humid air makes it more difficult. Look out for well ventilated places, open a window if it’s possible, or make use of air conditioning units.

See the full Moai research paper and all associated references here