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Coronavirus Can Be Transiently Air-Borne But Masks Can Keep You Safe

A study on the air-borne nature of coronavirus has shown that the virus can be transiently air-borne, but preventive measures like wearing masks can keep one safe.

Coronavirus Can Be Transiently Air-Borne But Masks Can Keep You Safe
| Representational Image
Coronavirus Can Be Transiently Air-Borne But Masks Can Keep You Safe
outlookindia.com
2021-01-06T08:26:08+05:30

A study on the air-borne nature of coronavirus has shown that the virus can be transiently air-borne, but preventive measures like wearing masks can keep one safe.

The study was conducted by the city-based CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTech), Chandigarh.

The scientists worked with hospitals -- three in Hyderabad and three in Chandigarh -- to find if the virus particles can be found in air samples in the hospital wards, the CCMB said in a release on Tuesday.

They used an air sampler that can collect the virus particles, and then looked for their presence using RT-PCR.

"In this study, the virus was found in air samples from Covid-19 wards from hospitals but not from non-Covid-19 wards. This suggests that the demarcation of hospital zones has been an effective strategy," the release said.

The study also showed the chances of picking up SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) in air is directly related to the number of COVID-19 positive cases in the room, their symptomatic status and the duration of exposure.

When COVID-19 individuals have spent longer hours in a room, the virus is found in the air for more than two hours even farther than two metres from their seating places.

"But for asymptomatic cases, they showed the virus does not spread farther from them when they are seated in a room without perceived airflow due to a fan or AC," it said.

All these findings do show that the coronavirus can stay in the air for some time, but they also strengthen the importance of COVID-19 preventive guidelines that are already in place to curb the pandemic, CCMB Director Rakesh Mishra said.

"If we ensure that we follow hygiene protocols such as regular handwashing, using masks effectively and preventing symptomatic people from public mixing, we can start getting back to normalcy more comfortably," he said.

Detecting and isolating positive cases early on can help prevent the spread among other family members in a home setting too, said Mishra, who is also the corresponding author on the study.

"Till the vaccines are available, social vaccine i.e.wearing mask is the best prevention," Sanjeev Khosla, Director, IMTech, said.

The study is now available on preprint server MedRxiv and was yet to be peer-reviewed, according to the release.

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