Coronavirus can be transiently air-borne but preventive measures can keep one safe: Study

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Representative Image
Representative Image

Hyderabad (Telangana) [India], January 6 (ANI): The virus can be transiently air-borne but preventive measures like wearing masks can keep one safe, said a study on the air-borne nature of coronavirus.

The study was conducted by the city-based CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB) and CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTech), Chandigarh. They released their data on the air-borne nature of coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2.

Scientists have worked with hospitals, 3 in Hyderabad and 3 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," it said.

The study also showed the chances of picking up SARS-CoV-2 in air is directly related to a number of COVID-19 positive cases in the room, their symptomatic status and the duration of exposure. When patients spent longer hours in a room, coronavirus is found in the air for more than 2 hours even farther than 2 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 air flow due to a fan or AC," it said.

CCMB Director Rakesh Mishra said that 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.

"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. Detecting and isolating the positive cases early on can help prevent the spread among other family members in a home setting too," he said.

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

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