The Japanese news organization NHK filmed the experiment in conjunction with public health officials, using fluorescent paint and a black light to demonstrate how the virus can quickly migrate from one person to nine people in moments at a buffet.
In a video that has been viewed more than 13 million times on Twitter, a man applies fluorescent paint to his hands at the beginning to signify the virus as if he had coughed or sneezed into his hands.
He is joined by nine other "uninfected" people who all serve themselves at the buffet and spend 30 minutes eating.
A black light then reveals the paint is now on the hands of all 10 people, while three of them also have some on their faces after touching the food and drink containers and using the tongs to put food on their plates.
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"This experiment shows how easily germs spread from person to person by contact alone, which is why we stress over and over again to not touch your face until you’ve washed your hands for 20 seconds," NBC medical correspondent Dr. John Torres told TODAY. "And if someone before you touched an object and then you do, be careful."
Torres conducted a similar experiment for NBC Nightly News at Soaring Heights Charter School in New Jersey in March. He had students put a safe, nontoxic powder called Glo Germ on their hands and left them alone for an hour.
The results then revealed traces of the substance on their noses, mouths, ears, surfaces around the classroom and even the teacher.
While the two experiments demonstrate how quickly and how thoroughly that germs can spread, Torres also stressed that droplets from infected people's mouths through sneezing, coughing, and breathing are considered the primary way that coronavirus is passed from one person to another.
"One caveat: This virus is more likely to spread through respiratory droplets but can spread by contact with contaminated surfaces and then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands,'' he said.