Coronavirus found in air samples
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Coronavirus found in air samples up to 13 feet from patients

New research on air samples collected from hospital wards with coronavirus patients has found the virus can travel up to 13 feet (4 meters)-twice the distance people should maintain between themselves in public as per the current standards.

The primary results of the research were published in the journal of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The research adds information to an expanding debate on the transmission of the virus, and the researchers are cautioning that the small quantities of virus they discovered at this range may not necessarily cause the disease.

The study was carried out with surface and air samples from an intensive care unit and also a general COVID-19 ward, Huoshenshan Hospital, Wuhan, by the researchers at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Beijing. The hospital had housed a total of 24 patients between 19 February to 2 March 2020.

The researchers found that the virus was most heavily concentrated on the floors of the wards may be due to gravity and air circulation, causing virus droplets to get settled on the floor.

The presence of viruses was also found on regularly touched surfaces like bed rails, computer mouse, doorknobs, and dustbins

at higher levels.

The team said, “Fifty percent of the samples collected from the soles of the ICU clinical personnel were tested positive for COVID-19, and therefore, these soles can act as a carrier.”

Airborne risk?

The group evaluated at aerosol transmission as well-when the droplets of the infection are so small and fine that they end up being suspended and stay airborne for several hours, unlike droplets of cough or sneeze that fall to the ground within seconds.

They found that viral aerosols were mostly high near and downstream from patients at up to 13 feet, though smaller quantities were found upstream as well up to 8 feet.

The team added, “Favorably, no hospital staff were infected, showing that appropriate safety measures can prevent infection effectively.”

They additionally provided guidelines: “Our research suggests that house isolation of suspected individuals might not be a good control strategy” – as the levels of environmental contamination is high.

Aerosolization of the coronavirus is a controversial part for researchers since it is not clear how severe the infection is in the small quantities present in the ultrafine aerosol.

WHO has so far minimized the threat. Health authorities of the United States have embraced an extra cautious line and prompted individuals to cover their faces when out in public in case the virus can be transmitted via regular talking and breathing.


Author: Sruthi S


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