SARS-CoV-2, a new strain of coronavirus that is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic, can possibly be transmitted through the air, World Health Organization (WHO) officials said. The organization is considering “airborne precautions” for medical staff as new studies reveal that the virus can survive in the air longer in some environments.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, told reporters in a virtual news conference on Monday said that SARS-CoV-2 could be transmitted through droplets, or tiny liquid particles, from cough or sneeze of an infected individual as well as in some inanimate objects.
“When you do an aerosol-generating procedure like in a medical care facility, you have the possibility to what we call aerosolize these particles, which means they can stay in the air a little bit longer,” she told reporters. She also added that health workers and medical staff should “take additional precautions when they’re working on patients and doing those procedures.”
On top of that, the World Health Organization also said that new studies suggest that the virus can go airborne, staying suspended in the air depending on factors such as heat and humidity. She added that experts are already aware of the existence of such studies, and they are looking at how humidity, temperature, and ultraviolet lighting affects the disease as well as how long it lives on different surfaces, including steel.
In this regard, health officials say that healthcare workers are to use protection such as N-95 masks as they have the capability of filtering out 95% of liquid and aerosols in the air. “In healthcare facilities, we make sure healthcare workers use standard droplet precautions with the exception … that they’re doing an aerosol-generating procedure,” she said.
Extra precautions are advised not only to medical workers but to everyone as the number of infections climbed to reach 566,373, with more than 25,427 fatalities around the world. In this tally, the United States has the most reported confirmed cases reaching up to 93,151 and 1,382 deaths.