WEAR MASK... Coronavirus may spread through air via normal breathing: US scientists

  • WEAR MASK... Coronavirus may spread through air via normal breathing: US scientists

WEAR MASK... Coronavirus may spread through air via normal breathing: US scientists

A pedestrian wearing a protective mask and protective gloves walks across an empty Dekalb Avenue, Sunday, March 29, 2020, in Brooklyn borough of NY.

NEW YORK, April 4 ― The new coronavirus might spread through the air via normal breathing and speaking, a top USA scientist said yesterday as the government was poised to recommend the use of face masks for everyone.

Social distancing guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) suggest that people stay at least six feet apart from one another if they are contagious or merely concerned about being exposed to someone carrying the virus, noting that the disease can be spread "through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes".

In a letter to the White House, Dr. Harvey Fineberg, who chairs the National Academy of Sciences' Standing Committee on Emerging Infectious Diseases and 21st Century Health Threats, wrote that on "the possibility that [coronavirus] could be spread by conversation, in addition to sneeze/cough-induced droplets", current research "supports the possibility that [coronavirus] could be spread via bioaerosols generated directly by patients' exhalation".

A prestigious scientific panel told the White House on Wednesday night that research shows coronavirus can be spread not just by sneezes or coughs, but also just by talking, or possibly even just breathing.

This was contained in a letter by the experts from the National Academy of Sciences to the White House, according to CNN.

Until now, United States health agencies have said the primary pathway of transmission is respiratory droplets, about one millimeter in diameter, expelled by sick people when they sneeze or cough.

For Fineberg, according to his letter, research, however limited, is showing that "aerosolization" of the virus can occur from normal breathing.

The agencies maintain that gravity grounds the droplets within one or two meters, even though they deposit the virus on surfaces, from which people can pick it up and get infected when they use unwashed hands to touch their mouth, nose, or eyes.

However, if the latest warnings by the researchers are to be believed, the virus can be suspended in the ultrafine mist we expel when we exhale-in other words an aerosol.

A recent NIH-funded study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could become an aerosol and remain airborne for up to three hours.

This triggered a debate even as critics said the findings were overblown because the team behind the study used a medical device called a nebuliser to deliberately create a viral mist and argued this would not occur naturally.

The Hong Kong researchers had some patients with coronavirus and other viral respiratory illnesses wear masks, while other patients in the study didn't cover their faces.

The letter also included a study which is now under the review and includes other viruses.

Dr Fineberg said it's possible that aerosolised coronavirus droplets can hang in the air and potentially infect someone who walks by later.

Bioaerosols are tiny airborne particles that are suspended in the air.

The group studied hospitals in Wuhan and located that there have been two main areas the place the virus was aerosolized: the loos of sufferers, and rooms the place medical workers eliminated their protecting gear.