U.S. biotech firm Moderna, is currently in a leading position in the global race to find a vaccine against the coronavirus. Photo: Supplied.

Scientist urge WHO to recognise airborne spread of Covid-19

“Studies by the signatories and other scientists have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that viruses are exhaled in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air and pose a risk of exposure beyond 1 to 2m by an infected person.” 

DURBAN – About 239 scientists from 32 countries are calling for the World Health Organization (WHO) for greater acknowledgement of the role of airborne spread of Covid-19 and the need for governments to implement control measures.

Scientists have written an open letter intended to publish their letter in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases this week. The letter was reported by the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.

Professor Morawska said: “Studies by the signatories and other scientists have demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that viruses are exhaled in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air and pose a risk of exposure beyond 1 to 2m by an infected person,” 

“Expertise in many sciences and engineering areas enables us to understand the characteristics and mechanisms behind the generation of respiratory microdroplets, how viruses survive in these microdroplets, and how airflow patterns carry microdroplets in buildings.”

The scientists argue that multiple studies demonstrate that aerosols can stay in the air for long periods, travelling long distances. The new information makes poorly ventilated rooms, transport vehicles such as trains, buses, and airplanes, and other confirmed spaces dangerous. Small particles containing the novel coronavirus can infect people upon being inhaled, and they can travel quickly following a sneeze.

Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) spreads primarily from person to person via small droplets from the nose or mouth that are expelled when an infected person sneezes, coughs or speaks. The rapid spread of the virus sparked many studies that looked at the length of time these virus-laden aerosols could stay in the air.

According to the Scientists measures that need to be taken to mitigate airborne transmission include:

  • Provide sufficient and adequate ventilation (supply clean outdoor air, minimize recirculating air), particularly in public buildings, workplace environments, schools, hospitals, and aged care homes.
  • Supplement general ventilation with airborne infection controls such as local exhaust, high-efficiency air filtration, and germicidal ultraviolet lights.
  • Avoid overcrowding, particularly in public transport and public buildings.

 

 

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