Research at a hospital in China shows the novel coronavirus can linger in the air after an infected individual breathes or talks.
Rabat – A committee with the US National Academy of Sciences non-profit warned the White House on April 1 that the novel coronavirus may be spread through talking or breathing in addition to sneezes and coughs.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the coronavirus spreads “through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes,” over a space of approximately 1.8 meters.
However, in a letter to the US government, the chairman of the scientific committee, Dr. Harvey Fineberg, suggests COVID-19 can spread easier than initially thought.
Fineberg told CNN the letter was in response to an inquiry from Kelvin Droegemeier, a member of the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House.
“This letter responds to your question concerning the possibility that [coronavirus] could be spread by conversation, in addition to sneeze/cough-induced droplets,” the document states.
“Currently available research supports the possibility that [coronavirus] could be spread via bioaerosols generated directly by patients’ exhalation.”
Fineberg highlighted research at a hospital in China that shows COVID-19 can be suspended in the air, as well as research by the University of Nebraska that found genetic material from the virus in spaces more than 1.8 meters from COVID-19 patients.
Aerosolized coronavirus droplets may remain in the air and potentially infect someone who walks by, depending on how much genetic material an infected individual puts out when breathing or talking, as well as the amount of circulation in the air.
“If you generate an aerosol of the virus with no circulation in a room, it’s conceivable that if you walk through later, you could inhale the virus,” Fineberg explained in the letter. “But if you’re outside, the breeze will likely disperse it.”
COVID-19 is not as infectious as measles or tuberculosis, the doctor assured, but he recommended covering the mouth when in public to avoid contracting the virus, in addition to respecting other preventive measures and hygiene practices.