Yep, it sucks that COVID-19 is still a thing. But just in case your slowly moving from cautious to complacent, here’s a tip that should prop your guard up: studies have now proven the airborne spread of COVID-19.
Trisha Greenhalgh, a recognized academic in primary health care, took to Twitter last week to publicize the relevant findings of a study supporting the predominant airborne spread of SARS-CoV-2.
According to the study published in The Lancet, long-range airborne transmission of the virus has been observed as the primary driver of superspreader events across a variety of settings, including people in adjacent rooms who have never had any contact inside quarantine hotels.
The difference between the airborne transmission of the virus versus the previously believed droplet transmission boils down to our key measures of control.
This means that our current health protocols are only concerned with avoiding droplet contact, and don’t account for things like room ventilation and air filtration which are beyond gravity-driven mechanisms. This also suggests that methods such as installing barriers and sanitizing surfaces are insufficient in combatting the airborne virus.
“If an infectious virus is mainly airborne, an individual could potentially be infected when they inhale aerosols produced when an infected person exhales, speaks, shouts, sings, sneezes, or coughs,” the study suggests. “Reducing airborne transmission of virus requires measures to avoid inhalation of infectious aerosols, including ventilation, air filtration, reducing crowding and time spent indoors, use of masks whenever indoors, attention to mask quality and fit, and higher-grade protection for health-care staff and front-line workers.”
Ron Baticulon, a pediatric neurosurgeon, shared the same study on Twitter under the now-trending hashtag, #NasaHanginAngCOVID. In his thread, he shared a few recommendations based on the findings of Greehalgh’s study:
- Keep the room well-ventilated. Let air flow freely by opening the windows and doors of your house, office, restaurant, and even your car.
- Avoid using an air-conditioning system that doesn’t have a HEPA filter, as this will only circulate the air which might already be infected with the virus.
- Only wear high-quality masks that fit well. Always wear your mask when with people indoors, and limit your time inside enclosed spaces, no matter how big the room is.
- Given the virus is airborne, a two-meter distance between you and other people may not be enough. As a general rule, simply avoid contact and talking in person as much as possible.
Since the study seems far from affecting actual changes in our standard health protocols at this point, it is then up to us to exercise caution in our own capacities. Mask up, pipe down, and let the room breathe so you can breathe with ease too.