CORONAVIRUS lingers in the air of crowded places for hours, scientists are warning.
A new study published Monday in the journal Nature Research revealed that bits of COVID-19’s genetic materials were found floating in the air of hospital toilets, in an indoor space holding large crowds and in rooms where medical staff removed protective gear.
Experts in Wuhan, the Chinese city where the pandemic began, analysed air samples from different parts of two hospitals.
Results showed the virus, called SARS-CoV-2, was undetectable everywhere except two areas ‘prone to crowding’.
The World Health Organization has said the risk of the virus spreading through the air has been a matter of debate and is limited to specific circumstances.
WHO says an analysis of more than 75,000 cases in China showed no airborne transmission.
According to scientists humans produce two types of droplets when they breathe, cough or talk – The large droplets and the small ones.
Larger droplets drop to the ground before they evaporate, causing contamination through the objects on which they settle. Smaller ones which are the ones that make up aerosols can hang in the air for hours.
The study led by Ke Lan of Wuhan University, found few aerosols in patient wards, supermarkets and residential buildings after they set up aerosol traps in and around two hospitals in the city of Wuhan.
Many more Covid-19 pathogens were detected in toilets and two areas that had large crowds passing through, including an indoor space near one of the hospitals.
High concentrations of the virus appeared in the rooms where medical staff kept protective equipment, which may suggest that particles contaminating their gear became airborne again when masks, gloves and gowns are removed.
According to the researchers, the study highlights the importance of ventilation, limiting crowds and careful sanitation efforts.