Covid can spread through air, says US health body

Centres for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines say aerosols from infected persons tend to remain in the air for a long time and when healthy individuals inhale them, they get infected with the virus

By   |  Published: 22nd Sep 2020  12:05 amUpdated: 22nd Sep 2020  12:39 am

Hyderabad: SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, can spread through tiny particles that remain suspended in air for a long period of time, which are then inhaled by healthy individuals, according to the latest guidelines released by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States.

Before the latest guidelines, the CDC and other organisations including WHO had maintained that the coronavirus spreads mainly through close contact between individuals within a distance of six feet and also through respiratory droplets when a person sneezes or coughs. A few days ago, the CDC updated its guidelines and said that aerosols, which are produced when infected persons talk, breath or even when they sing, if inhaled by healthy individuals, will cause the infection.

Aerosols from infected persons tend to remain in the air for a long time and when healthy individuals inhale them, they get infected with the virus. The new CDC guidelines are a clear indication that SARS-CoV-2 could also be transmitted through air. Till now, the WHO has been steadfast in rejecting this theory and has consistently maintained that the coronavirus only spread within six-feet of distance between individuals through air.

“Covid-19 most commonly spreads through respiratory droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols, produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, talks, or breathes. These particles can be inhaled into the nose, mouth, airways, and lungs and cause infection. This is thought to be the main way the virus spreads,” the CDC said.

There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed-in by others, and travel distances beyond six feet. In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk, the CDC said.

The CDC, in the updated guidelines, said how the virus easily spreads from person to person can vary. “Airborne viruses, including Covid-19, are among the most contagious and spread easily. Some viruses are highly contagious, like measles, while other viruses do not spread as easily. The virus that causes Covid-19 appears to spread more efficiently than influenza, but not as efficiently as measles, which is highly contagious. In general, the more closely a person with Covid-19 interacts with others and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk of a Covid-19 spread,” the CDC said.

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