Dr. Shuvomoy Banerjee, Neucrad Health Desk July 11, 2020
The current Corona situation has been further complicated by a recent scientific claim from a total of 239 corona experts from 32 countries all over the world. These experts have brought into the world’s attention that novel corona infection is airborne and apart from the large droplets from a sneeze, cough and phlegm, it can also be spread via the tiny droplets coming out of an infected person’s mouth while simply talking or breathing! The peer reviewed journal “Clinical Infectious Diseases” has published their research work where they demonstrated that the SARS-CoV-2 virus particles stay floated in the air even long after the infected patients speak or breathe. When a healthy person inhales that same air, they become infected. In this way the infection spreads quickly and unknowingly. It’s high time that we know more about how this airborne viral infection occurs actually. Let’s find out the scientific explanation here:
Scientific studies have shown that viruses including measles, influenza, coronavirus, rhinovirus, adenovirus, respiratory syncytial virus and enterovirus can be airborne. Earlier, Influenza, coronavirus (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) pandemic have already claimed many lives in the world. The infectious virus easily infects people in crowded places, closed shops, restaurants and small rooms where there is less ventilation facility. In fact, this airborne virus needs a “closed environment” or “Stagnant air” where the virus particles can suspend for quite long time. Studies have revealed that airborne infections are more common in hospitals, nursing homes, health centers, airplane cabins, air-conditioned cars etc. Doctors, nurses, health workers who spend most of the day in the health center on a livelihood basis get “Occupational Infection” and the patients and their families who come with them for treatment get “Nosocomial Infection”. According to scientific data, the infection can also be spread from many medical devices such as ventilators, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), sputum incubation, surgical equipments, nebulizer etc. Scientists also believe that increasing pollution worldwide has greatly reduced the air quality and is importantly linked with the severity of viral infections. Other important physical components like air temperature, relative humidity, concentration of carbon dioxide can greatly influence the infection rate as well.
Explanation of airborne infections especially in case of SARS-CoV-2 from studies:
We were already alarmed for the SARS-CoV-2 virus infection spread via coughing and sneezing. However, now several studies suggest that it may spread through nose and mouth of an infected patient in the form of ‘aerosols’. These infectious virus particles are located in very fine vapors floating in the air. Usually the aerosol is less than 5 microns. However, fine aerosols combine to form droplets larger than 5 microns. These droplets can settle down on the floor and other places as they become heavier than aerosol.
Surprisingly, studies have shown that the SARS-CoV-2 virus can stay afloat for about 3 hours! Henceforth, if a healthy person breathes in that air anytime within these 3 hours, there is a chance of infection. Interestingly, due to its large size, droplet cannot easily reach the upper and lower respiratory from the nasopharyngeal passage and only epithelial cells are affected. However, aerosols being smaller in size can travel directly through the bronchi and bronchioles to the alveolar wall of the lungs. In this way, Covid-19 may spread rapidly via aerosol-mediated transmission. But, WHO is evaluating the new findings of research outcomes in a regular basis on aerosol related research.
Safety measures required to prevent Covid-19:
Studies have shown that droplets can cover a distance of 3.3 feet. So, it is very important to maintain a certain distance while being outside, walking, running or biking. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), strict adherence to social norms, use of three-layer masks for everyone and N-95 mask for health workers are must, hand washing with soap and use of sanitizers frequently, self-isolation and quarantine in case of getting infected should be strictly followed. In addition, proper ventilation should be provided at home as well as at workplace. Lungs, heart patients and those who are immune-compromised due to other critical diseases can possibly prevent the infection by installing air purifier in their living room, maintaining hygiene and not going outside unless emergency.
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