239 scientists have claimed that coronavirus is airborne, that is, it stays alive in the air and can hunt people even in closed rooms. The World Health Organization (WHO) has also accepted this claim.
The WHO previously claimed that coronaviruses spread primarily due to droplets, which exit the body via coughs or sneezes, and fall to the surface, but 239 scientists from 32 countries claimed the evidence in an open letter. That small particles in the air can prey on exposed people for several hours. After this WHO also accepted it. According to a New York Times report, the researchers have decided to give this research in a scientific journal coming next week.
WHO also said in its latest update released on June 29 that the virus could only spread in the air if a medical procedure produced aerosols or droplets smaller than five microns. One micron is one millionth of a meter. According to the WHO, correct ventilation and an N95 mask can prevent infection in such a situation.
Earlier, the WHO said that washing of hands could prevent coronavirus. However, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention says that the risk of the virus spreading from the surface is very low. WHO’s technical lead in infection control, Dr. Benedette Allegranzi, said that the evidence regarding the spread of the virus from the air was not satisfactory.
What is the basis of the claim of scientists?
The coronavirus can remain in the air as small droplets for several hours and can prey on people when they breathe. This risk is increased in crowded rooms and halls, where air flow is not good.
However, aerosol expert Linse Mar at Virginia Tech says that nothing can be said about the claim that these small droplets or aerovasols cause coronavirus outbreaks compared to larger droplets coming out of the body with sneezing or coughing. How high is the risk?
What is aerosol and how is it different from droplets?
Aerosols are droplets and droplets are aerosols. There is no difference between the two except size. Scientists call droplets of less than five microns in size as aerosols. You can think of it as a red blood cell’s cell’s diameter is five microns, while a human hair has a width of 50 microns.
From the beginning the WHO and other agencies believed that coronavirus was spread by droplets. Large droplets that are released during a sneeze or cough are heavy and fall to the surface (ground) immediately. For this reason it was advised to avoid touching the surface. Also, frequent hand washing and use of sanitizer were being advised. The basis of the advice of social distancing was also that droplets coming out of a person’s body covered a distance of six feet.
Why is aerosol more dangerous than droplets?
Experts claim that corona sufferers are also dropping aerosols during coughs and sneezes. The most important thing is that aerosols come out of the body even when people breathe, talk or sing. Scientists know that even if there is no system, people can spread the virus. That is, even without coughing or sneezing. Then surely aerosol will be the reason.
Aerosols are small in size and may contain a lesser amount of virus than droplets. Since they are mild, they can remain in the air for several hours. Especially in the absence of fresh air. In crowded places, an infected person can release so much aerosol that he can make many people sick.
What does it mean for a virus to spread in the air?
If a virus spreads in the air, it means that it can reach from one person to another even in the air. Not all viruses can be put in one category. For example, HIV cannot survive outside the body, so it is not airborne. Measles is airborne and also dangerous. The virus can remain alive in the air for up to two hours.
The definition for coronavirus is complex. Experts say that this virus cannot travel long distances and cannot survive outside for long. But evidence suggests that it can cover distances in closed rooms and experiments have also proved that it can survive for up to three hours in the air.
Should physical distancing and hand washing worry be stopped?
It is very important to maintain physical distance. The closer you are to an infected person, the higher the exposure to aerosols and droplets. Hand washing is still a good idea. The new thing is that not enough. The use of masks also has to be focused.
What can I do to reduce the risk?
- As much as possible, stay outdoors. In any case, spending time on the beach with the blowing air is better than spending time in a pub or indoor restaurant.
- Wear masks even in outdoor and do not come in contact with other people for long. Follow physical distancing.
- Try to keep the doors and windows open even in indoor. Upgrade the air-conditioning system. Set the settings so that the outside air can be used more and the air inside is not recirculated.
- Public buildings and commercial spaces will have to be spent on air purifiers as well as ultraviolet lights, thereby eliminating the virus.
- Health workers must wear the N95 mask, which filters out and prevents most aerosols. At this time they are asked to do this only during the medical procedure.
- Clothes masks also reduce the risk to a great extent. You can remove masks in homes when you are with your family, or with roommates. But make sure to take care too.
- If you are going to the indoor places of other people outside the house, then you must wear a mask.