Amid debates about airborne transmission of coronavirus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday acknowledged "evidence emerging" of airborne spread of COVID-19.
Reuters quoted Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic at the WHO as saying, “We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19."
If the new development gets scientifically proven, it may affect guidelines for indoor spaces. For months, the WHO insisted that Covid-19 is transmitted via droplets emitted when people cough or sneeze. Droplets that do not linger in the air, but fall onto surfaces — that's why washing hands has been identified as a key prevention measure.
The WHO has now admitted there was evidence to suggest this was possible in specific settings, such as enclosed and crowded spaces. That evidence will have to be thoroughly evaluated, but if it is confirmed, the advice on preventing the further spread of virus may change. This could lead to widespread use of masks and more rigorous distancing, especially in restaurants, public transport, etc.
Given the emerging trends, what precautions you can take?
Expert suggests that healthcare workers may all need to wear N95 masks, which filter out most aerosols. While, the general public, can wear cloth face masks which will still greatly reduce risk, as long as most people wear them.
When at home or other indoor spaces, try and wear mask at all times, experts advice. When indoors, one can also open their windows and doors whenever possible to let fresh air passes through. One must also upgrade the filters in home air-conditioning systems, or adjust the settings to use more outdoor air rather than recirculated air.
While for commercial spaces, businesses may want to invest in air purifiers and ultraviolet lights that can kill the virus.