Airborne Covid Transmission: What does It Mean and What You Should Do Now to Minimise the Risks
As per the new update based on scientific evidence, the virus can stay aloft for hours in tiny droplets in the stagnant air, can infect people as they inhale.
This risk is highest in crowded indoor area or spaces with poor ventilation or no ventilation at all, and may help to explain super-spreading events reported in the places like meatpacking plants, restaurants, churches or other crowded places.
It’s not clear that how often the virus is spread via these smaller droplets, or aerosols, compared with larger droplets that are expelled when a sick person coughs or sneezes, or transmitted through contact with contaminated surfaces, As per Linsey Marr - an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech.
It's important to know that Aerosols are released even when a person don't have symptoms exhales, talks or sings, As per Marr and 200 other experts, who have warned and outlined the evidence by sharing a open letter to the WHO (World Health Organization).
As per the experts, It is clear, that people should consider minimizing time indoors with people outside their families. Also Schools, nursing homes and business places should install powerful new air filters and ultraviolet lights that can destroy airborne viruses.
Below are some of the questions with answers raised by the latest research.
What does it mean for a virus to be airborne?
For a virus to be airborne, which means that it can be carried through the air in a viable form. For most of the pathogens, this is a yes-no scenario. HIV, too delicate to survive outside the body, is not airborne. Measles is airborne, and dangerously so: It can stay in the air for up to two hours or more.
For the novel coronavirus, this definition has been even considered as more complicated. Experts agree that the virus does not travel long distances or remain viable outdoors. But evidence suggests it can traverse the length of a room and, in one set of experimental conditions, remain viable for perhaps more that three hours.
How are aerosols different from droplets?
It could be said, Aerosols are droplets OR droplets are aerosols — they do not differ except in size. Scientists sometimes refer to droplets fewer than 5 microns in diameter as aerosols. (By comparison, a red blood cell is about 5 microns in diameter; a human hair is about 50 microns wide.)
From the early stage of of the pandemic, the World Health Organization OR WHO and other public health organizations have focused on the virus’s ability to spread through large droplets that are expelled when a symptomatic person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets are heavy, relatively speaking, and fall quickly to the floor, OR onto a surface that others might touch. That's why health agencies have recommended maintaining a social distance of at least 6 feet from others, also frequent hand washing.
But As per some experts for months that infected people also are releasing aerosols when they cough and sneeze. More importantly, they expel aerosols even when they talk or sing, breathe, especially with some exertion.
Scientists assumes that people can spread the virus even in they don't have any symptoms — like coughing or sneezing — and aerosols might explain that phenomenon.
Aerosols contain much less virus than droplets, as they are smaller. But because they are lighter, Aerosols can linger in the air for hours, especially in the polluted air OR not fresh air. In a crowded and indoor area, a single infected person can release enough aerosolized virus over time to infect other, perhaps seeding a super spreader event.
For droplets to be responsible for that kind of spread, a single person would have to be within some feet from all other, OR to have contaminated an object that everyone else touched. “I have to do too many mental gymnastics to explain those other routes of transmission compared to aerosol transmission, which is much simpler,” .
Can I stop worrying about physical distancing and washing my hands?
It's still important to maintain Physical distancing. Always Remember, The closer you are to an infected person, the more aerosols and droplets you may be exposed to. Continue to Wash your hands often.
This is equally important to wearing masks and maintain ventilation indoor as we do with hand washing.
Should I wear a hospital-grade mask indoors? Also how long is too long to stay indoors?
All Health care workers may need to wear N95 masks, which helps to filter out most aerosols. At the moment, they are advised to do so only when engaged in certain medical procedures that are thought to produce aerosols.
Important Facts To Know:
Hundreds of Scientists say that the novel coronavirus is airborne and they can infect people via tiny particles in the air
239 scientists in 32 countries plan to publish their research
They argue that the airborne coronavirus can infect people when inhaled
The study shows evidence that smaller particles can infect people
They link their new findings to the recent increase in airborne virus infection
This increase occurred after the reopening of businesses and offices
They said that this confirms what may scientists have been previously highlighting
They concluded that the coronavirus can linger in the air
Especially in indoor spaces such as offices
Which make it easier to infect people in these closed spaces
The scientists are calling for the WHO to update it's list for guidelines
So that takes into consideration the risk of airborne infection
Based on WHO guidelines, the COVID-19 spreads primarily from person to person
Through small droplets from the nose or mouth
The dropslets are usually expelled when an infected person cough, sneezes or speaks
Researchers are recommending new guidelines to tackle this issue
Recommendations include increasing indoor ventilation
Installing advance air filters and UV lamps
And preventing overcrowding in buildings and transport
The WHO says that it is currently reviewing the new material provided by researchers
WHO also said that airborne transmission is possible
But yet to be verified with solid and clear evidence
A recent study shown that face masks are critical to avoid breathing the tiny atmospheric particles (aerosols)
These particles are emitted by infected people when talking
Aerosols can remain in the atmosphere tens of minutes and travel in the airborne
The study showed that airborne transmission via respiratory aerosols in the main route for the spread of COVID-19