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CDC Revises guidance – Says COVID-19 spreads through Airborne transmission

New CDC guidance suggests that COVID-19 spreads through airborne transmission. With that backdrop, we thought of checking out a few claims in this context.

CDC or Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has revised the guidance on Monday with respect to the COVID-19 spreads through airborne transmission. The latest guidance from the organisation indicates that the virus particles can  “linger in the air for minutes to hours”. The studies have indicated that the particles can even affect the people who are more than 6 feet away.

It may be noticed that the new guidance was published last month – perhaps inadvertently and stated that the disease can spread through aerosols, small droplets that can linger in the air. The guidance was immediately removed stating that it was a draft version and was inadvertently added.

What do the New CDC revised Guidelines Indicate?

As part of the revised guidelines, CDC indicated that COVID-19 patients can spread the disease to the people who are more than 6 feet away. This can happen primarily in the case of closed locations that have no proper ventilation. In fact, the enclosed spaces make the amount of infectious smaller droplet and particles, or aerosols get concentrated such that they can spread the virus.

Image courtesy – ScienceDirect

The six feet social distancing rule was formulated based on the above findings. However, Aerosol droplets are quite smaller and can stay suspended in the air for longer periods of time just like smoke. Experts have long been stating that it can be a major cause for the transmission.

It may be noticed that a group of scientists in the US had warned about the possibility of the disease spreading through the aerosols lingering in the air. The warning was issued through the open letter by a group of US scientists. The researchers have claimed in the letter that, “The reality is the airborne transmission is the main way that transmission happens at close range with prolonged contact,” 

The new CDC guidance has mentioned that,

“limited, uncommon circumstances where people with COVID-19 infected others who were more than 6 feet away or shortly after the COVID-19-positive person left an area.”

However, CDC has also clarified that the disease is likely to spread in the case of a larger droplet when people are in close proximity. However, the new guidance definitely brings forth the possibility of spreading the virus through the airborne mode.

The statement further clarified that,

“In these instances, transmission occurred in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces that often involved activities that caused heavier breathing, like singing or exercise,…Such environments and activities may contribute to the buildup of virus-carrying particles.”

However, CDC recommends the general public to safeguard themselves through the following tips –

  • Stay away from people by at least 6 feet
  • Wear a mask to cover your nose and mouth
  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Clean the surfaces you have touched
  • Stay home when you are sick

Can the coronavirus disease spread through feces?

The virus causing COVID-19 has been found in the feces of the patients. However, there are no sound proof that has indicated the spread of the virus. As such, we do not foresee any serious concern to confirm the spread of the disease through feces or use of bathroom.

However, we would advise you to use separate bathrooms for the COVID-19 patients to avoid contracting the disease through other reasons. Like E. Susan Amirian, an epidemiologist with Rice’s Texas Policy Lab  states, “Ultimately, more research is needed to determine whether exposure to stool is spreading this virus and making the pandemic worse,”

In essence, ventilation is extremely important and should be practised with due care.  Kimberly Prather, an atmospheric chemist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and lead author of the Science letter recommends opening doors and windows when having interactions with the people outside your household pod, having gatherings in the open wherever possible, and using standalone air filters.

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