New evidence finds that the virus that causes Covid -19 can be spread through microscopic respiratory droplets up to several meters in enclosed indoor spaces. The risk of infection is higher indoors. Outdoors, the aerosols evaporate and disperse much more quickly. The current guidance from the WHO does not address the fact that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted through minuscule aerosols. It only states that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is primarily spread from person to person through large respiratory droplets, which are expelled into the air when a person coughs or sneezes. While that remains true, subsequent evidence has suggested that SARS-CoV-2 also spreads readily through much smaller particles that can hang in the air for hours and be inhaled.
How Covid -19 Spreads Through Aerosols?
Research has found that people with the virus can expel pieces of it when they exhale, talk, or cough. Those tiny viral pieces, called micro droplets, can be so small that they are able to float in the air and potentially travel a distance of multiple meters. Some micro droplets can travel across an entire room. People can then inhale those minuscule viral particles, then contract COVID-19 and get sick. Originally, it was thought that the major way that the virus was transmitted was from person to person by large particle droplets, which basically only travel about 6 feet or so and fall to the ground very quickly. Newer research strongly suggests that airborne transmission plays a bigger role than previously thought. “Small particle aerosols may actually be as important to even more important than these large particle droplets in terms of transmitting the virus.”
The risk is greatest in indoor environments — think crowded bars and restaurants — where there’s limited exchange of air and these small particle aerosols can stay aloft in the air for a significant period of time.
How To Protect Yourself From Airborne Transmission ?
Hand washing, physical distancing, and donning a face mask are key safety measures to protect yourself from COVID-19. Face masks are critical in reducing the risk of spreading or being exposed to the virus via aerosols.
“Since aerosolized droplets (containing viral particles) may remain in poorly ventilated rooms for minutes to several hours, the importance of wearing a mask while indoors should strongly be considered.” Mask wearing has become common, even required in some states, over the past few weeks, but people need to consider wearing them anytime they are indoors with people outside their household. The face coverings protect not only yourself, but those around you, too, in the event you’re asymptomatic and contagious.
We must take the necessary precautions to protect ourselves and our families as through airborne transmission constitute a major mode of transmission.