Scientist calculate infection risk in closed spaces

During the pandemic, many people ask themselves: Is it more dangerous to go grocery shopping or go to the hairdresser or the museum? How high is the risk of infection in a bus or train, at the workplace, in the gym or at school? A recently published study by scientist from the Technical University of Berlin gives answers to these questions. They have developed a mathematical model to calculate the infection risk in different kinds of closed spaces. For this calculation, the authors assume that one infected person is in a closed space and calculate the probability of different persons getting infected. They use data that was previously published in other publications.

Here are a few examples of the results: In a grocery store, it is likely that one person gets infected in an hour. This number is similar when shopping, if ten square meters are available per person, or in a restaurant that is occupied at 25 percent. The infection risk is only half as likely at the hairdresser’s or in a museum. However, the risk of getting infected is higher by 50 percent in long distance busses or trains, if the transport is occupied at 50 percent. The risk is three times as high in a secondary school, if the rooms is occupied at half capacity and the students are wearing a mask. If they didn’t wear one, about six people would get infected during a school day. In an office with multiple people, the risk is eight times as high as in a grocery store during a work day, if the office is occupied at 50 percent and no masks are worn.

Generally, the authors presume in their calculations that the distance and hygiene rules as well as the ventilation recommendations are being followed. The calculations for the school are only applicable to basically adult students and not for children.

A chart with a risk-rating of everyday situations is available in the download of the study under:


Impressionen zum Leben in Zeiten der Corona-Pandemie. Foto: tünews INTERNATIONAL; Mostafa Elyasian 19.05.2020.

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