IN March, in an analysis by medical experts, airborne transmission was not included in the list of possible transmission of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19). Only droplet transmission. The principal mode by which people are infected with Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “droplet transmission occurs when a person is in close contact (within one meter) with someone who has respiratory symptoms like coughing or sneezing and is therefore at risk of having his/her mucosae (mouth and nose) or conjunctiva (eyes) exposed to potentially infective respiratory droplets. Transmission may also occur through fomites in the immediate environment around the infected person.”
Recently, the United States Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) said Covid-19 can be acquired through airborne transmission. The CDC said the virus can spread from particles that linger in the air for hours. The CDC stressed that close contact with an infected person remains the most common way the virus spreads but it can also “sometimes” be spread by airborne transmission.
Some infections can be spread by exposure to virus in small droplets and particles that can linger in the air for minutes or hours. These viruses may be able to infect people who are further than six feet away from a person who is infected or after that person has left the space.
Airborne transmission is different from droplet transmission as it refers to the presence of microbes within droplet nuclei, which are generally considered to be particles and can remain in the air for long periods of time and can be transmitted to others over distance greater than one meter.
Scientists have been calling on authorities to address the potential for airborne transmission for months now. Last July, experts from 32 countries wrote an open letter published in the British Medical Journal that airborne transmission of Covid-19 was being underestimated. The WHO subsequently said that airborne transmission in crowded and poorly ventilated areas “cannot be ruled out.”
The CDC advises people to stay at least six feet away from others whenever possible, to cover their mouth and nose with mask when around others, to avoid crowded indoor spaces and ensure indoor spaces are properly ventilated by bringing in outdoor air as much as possible.
With this finding, the more we have to adopt stricter measures to stop the spread of the virus. We should not be complacent. Social distancing with one-meter distance is no longer applicable with airborne transmission. It should be a maximum of six feet.
Can we observe this distance in public transportation? So it’s not only one seat apart. In airplanes? In movie houses (that is, if we allow the reopening of cinemas)? The other day, movie operators met with Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella and asked the hizzoner if they could reopen. In concerts and other entertainment venues and in churches? Is going to the movies considered an essential task? With our gadgets (TV, computers and cellular phones) we can watch movies at home. If we allow these kinds of gatherings, who can prevent cockfighting aficionados from demanding the reopening of cockpits? We must accept and admit that living with Covid-19, our lives will never be the same again.