How easily does COVID-19 spread through the air?
The COV-19 virus reportedly attaches itself to droplets which are emitted when infected people sneeze or cough or by droplets exiting an infected persons mouth when speaking. However, there are different theories of how long the virus will remain transmittable through the air.
According to a new study COVID-19 appears to remain airborne longer than suspected
The contaminated droplets containing the virus are said to be droplets that would in most cases quickly drop to the floor or a surface after exhaling.
Therefore it was thought the particles would not remain airborne long and after a few minutes the virus would no longer circulate in the air and become inhaled.
A new study, published in the medRxiv depository, now suggests that the novel coronavirus COVID-19 could remain in the air up to 3 hours post aerosolization.
The research also notes that on surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel it can remain live for up to three days, on copper surfaces for four hours and on carboard for up to 24 hours.
The study from scientists at Princeton University, the University of California-Los Angeles and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) still awaits peer group review, but nevertheless indicates a remarkable contrast to previously published information.
Another study, done in Wuhan Hospitals during COVID-19 Outbreak, tested the air and as a result especially deposition samples inside ICU and an air sample in a patient toilet tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. This gives reason to suspect that the aerosol transmission of the virus is more common than thought.
On a broader scale the scientists have not reached consensus whether COVID-19 should be called airborne or whether it is transmittable only from droplets. Airborne or not, when the water component of droplets dries up in the air, the remaining bits of floating virus are called “droplet nuclei,” which are lighter and able to travel long distances.
WHO is considering “airborne precautions” for medical staff
After the new study showed the coronavirus can survive in the air in some settings, the World Health Organization (WHO) is considering “airborne precautions” for medical staff. In medical care facilities some aerosol generating procedures can cause particles to stay in the air longer.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit said “It’s very important that health-care workers take additional precautions when they’re working on patients and doing those procedures.”
Safeguarding the ones that are most vulnerable against infections
In addition to COVID-19, a wide array of viruses and bacteria might also circulate in hospitals and places like daycare centers, retirement homes and schools where there are vulnerable people close to each other.
People who are weakened by any other infection will be even more vulnerable to the COVID-19. It is therefore essential as much as possible to keep the air uncontaminated in those places.
Any air decontamination should be done in addition to all normal precautions, such as washing hands and disinfecting the equipment, surfaces and clothing in places where close contacts with infected persons might occur.
Equipping all air quality sensitive premises with mobile Genano air purifier units, will help to reduce the risk of further infection. This is because only the electric air purifiers are known to capture the very smallest of particles, including all airborne viruses and bacteria and kill all living organisms with the electric charge.
Viruses which are captured by a normal membrane or mechanical filter, without electrostatic process, can stay alive in the filter and so carry a risk of spreading infections from the device itself.
The Genano air decontamination units can be installed quickly with an easy “plug & play” -installation and moved from room to room as the need for extra air decontamination arises. The units are available for purchase, but also on rental basis at short notice.
Genano has delivered some 300 machines to China since the COVID-19 outbreak and was also heavily involved fighting against the SARS epidemic in Saudi Arabia.