Video shows how quickly COVID-19 can spread in buffet-style restaurant setting

An experiment filmed by Japan’s public broadcasting organization NHK shows how easy it is for a virus like COVID-19 to spread on a cruise ship or in buffet-style restaurant.

NHK said it collaborated with infectious disease experts in order to conduct an experiment which recreated a buffet common on cruise ships, since the organization said that cruise ships helped the virus travel and spread exponentially.

The experiment involved 10 participants. One person was designated as “patient 0." Assuming that the infected person suppressed their cough with their hand, a fluorescent paint only visible under ultraviolet light was applied to that person’s palm to illustrate the virus. 

The rest of the participants, including the “infected“ individual, were then allowed to enjoy the free buffet provided to them for the next 30 minutes. 

The video shows the diners touching various utensils to grab food from the buffet as they interact with each other, seemingly unaware of the “sick” individual. 

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At the end of the 30 minutes, the room goes dark, and a black light is emitted to expose where the invisible paint has spread, presenting quite a shock to the participants. 

The paint appeared to spread almost everywhere.

In the video, paint can be seen covering the face of the original “infected” individual, as well as on other participants’ clothes and utensils. 

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NHK noted that in a seperate experiment, frequently changing the shared catering dishes and tongs helped minimize the spread of the paint. 

The video came as many countries and U.S. states move toward reopening following weeks of pandemic lockdown orders. 

One travel company called Cruise Planners said it saw a 600 percent increase in Carnival cruise bookings, despite the company announcing a tentative return to business in August.

After the National Institutes of Health announced in March that COVID-19 appears to be stable anywhere from several hours to several days on surfaces and in the air, medical experts have warned that there is still much they still do not know about the virus.