Airborne transmission of COVID-19 a possibility: WHO

Airborne transmission of COVID-19 a possibility: WHO

Just when the world started to believe that it now has enough information about the novel coronavirus and could actually live with it by taking all the necessary precautions, there comes a piece of news that would disrupt their plans.

So far, droplet transmission was considered to be the main mode of transmission of COVID-19. This meant that if we made sure to not come in direct contact with infected persons and in indirect contact with contaminated surfaces, we had minimal chances of contracting the fatal disease.

But, much to the horror of the entire global population, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has now said that the novel coronavirus, officially called SARS-CoV-2, could be airborne. Yes, it is very much possible that all this while COVID-19 was spreading through the air and we had no idea.

The WHO acknowledged “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of COVID-19, after a group of scientists presented the global health body their research on the modes of transmission of the China-originated virus.

“We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19,” said Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the novel coronavirus pandemic at the WHO.

Kerkhove also informed that the WHO will be updating its guidelines regarding the modes of transmission of the respiratory disease.

Further, Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said, “The possibility of airborne transmission of COVID-19 in public settings, especially in crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out. However, the evidence needs to be gathered and interpreted and we continue to support this.”

Earlier, this is what the WHO had said based on the information received from China – “In an analysis of 75,465 COVID-19 cases in China, airborne transmission was not reported.”

Difference between droplet transmission and airborne transmission

Droplet transmission occurs when a person is exposed to potentially infective respiratory droplets which are released when a patient coughs or sneezes. Such droplets do not remain in the air for a long period of time and can be dodged by maintaining physical distancing.

On the other hand, airborne transmission refers to the spread of a disease through microbes that are present within droplet nuclei. These particles can remain in the air for hours and can even travel greater distances. Thus, wearing a mask at all times is of prime importance.

With this latest update, we need to be more cautious than ever.