Is SARS-CoV-2 airborne? Experts clear your nagging doubts on COVID-19

All you need to know about the new Coronavirus strain. (photo:ianslife)
Representational image: IANS

Thiruvananthapuram: Medical experts are unanimous that the causative virus of Coronavirus Disease 2019 or COVID-19 is the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome-related Coronavirus-2 or SARS-CoV-2. But so far there has been no definitive theories on the origins, spread and inhibition of the virus. Moreover, the certain cure for the disease that has claimed over 3 million lives world over in nearly one-and-a-half years is still elusive.

Among the several questions and doubts that persist a significant one is if the virus, SARS-CoV-2, is communicable through air? If airborne, wouldn’t those riding vehicles contract the virus? Here doctors try to clear such doubts.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has approved the scientific finding that the coronavirus could spread through air. But unlike other viruses, it does not float in air. When an infected person sneezes or coughs, s/he releases respiratory pathogens along with the droplets of saliva.

Droplets heavier than 10 microns drop to the ground, while lighter ones linger suspended in the air within a maximum radius of 10 foot. It has been found that the aerosols – suspended solid particles/liquid droplets in air or another gas – remain for three to four hours in closed or air-conditioned rooms.

However, they won’t remain suspended in the air for long in open environments.

Touching the face or nose after coming to contact with surfaces having the presence of the infected droplets would lead to contracting the coronavirus. It won’t enter the body through the skin.

Defence against aerosols

There are two preventive means: use face masks and hand sanitizers. The face masks help in keeping away the droplets disseminated when one sneezes or coughs.

We cannot, however, detect infected surfaces. Frequent washing of the hands is the solution. Also, avoid getting together in closed or air-conditioned environments.

It has been often observed that people tend to lower the face mask while sneezing or coughing. This is mostly to avoid the droplets wetting the mask, since people seldom carry a spare one. The habit of lowering or raising the mask while sneezing or coughing is dangerous. The solution is to carry additional face masks.

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