The virus was found in air samples of Covid-19 wards from hospitals but not from non-Covid-19 wards.
Hyderabad: In a clear indication that coronavirus can stay in the air for some time, a study taken-up by Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTech), Chandigarh, has found the virus in the air samples of Covid-19 wards in three hospitals each in Hyderabad and Chandigarh.
The CCMB and IMTech on Tuesday released their data on the air-borne nature of SARS-CoV-2.
Scientists have worked with six hospitals to find if the virus particles could be found in air samples in the hospital wards. They used an air sampler that can collect the virus particles, and then looked for their presence using RT-PCR.
The virus was found in air samples of Covid-19 wards from hospitals but not from non-Covid-19 wards. This suggests that the demarcation of hospital zones has been an effective strategy, researchers said. The study also showed that the chance of picking up SARS-CoV-2 in air is directly related to number of Covid positive cases in the room, their symptomatic status and the duration of exposure.
“When Covid positive individuals spent longer hours in a room, the virus is found in air for more than two hours even farther than 2 metres from their seating places. But for asymptomatic cases, they showed the virus does not spread farther from them when they are seated in a room without perceived air flow due to a fan or AC,” the study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed and is available on preprint server MedRxiv, said.
“Till the vaccines are available, social vaccine i.e. wearing mask is the best prevention” said Dr Sanjeev Khosla, Director, IMTech.
The CCMB Director Dr. Rakesh Mishra, who is coresponding author in the study said the findings do show that the coronavirus can stay in air for some time.
“The study also strengthens the importance of Covid preventive guidelines that we already have in place. If we ensure hygiene protocols such as regular hand washing, using masks effectively and preventing symptomatic people from public mixing, we can start getting back to normalcy more comfortably. Detecting and isolating the positive cases early on can help prevent the spread among other family members in a home setting too,” he said.
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