The number of coronavirus cases In India is shooting up with each passing day. COVID-19 has infected more than 9,100 people in the country. With 7,987 active cases and 308 deaths reported, India is on the verge of Stage 3 (community transmission). Our healthcare workers are fighting at the COVID-19 frontlines and doing their best to treat the infected patients.
According to media reports, at least 90 healthcare workers including doctors and nurses have been infected with COVID-19 in India. And, that's not it. A recent study of patients in hospitals and intensive care units (ICUs) in China’s Wuhan has made some rather startling claims. The study says that virus, which causes COVID-19 can be airborne for up to four metres.
A study published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) tells us how exactly the infection spreads.
The RNA (Ribonucleic acid) genetic material of Sars-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) has been found in the air in hospitals even as far as four meters away from the infected patients. This is primarily because the soles of the shoes worn by the health staff are acting as carriers of the virus. It was also found on other frequently touched surfaces, such as doorknobs and bed rails.
How Can Healthcare Workers Be Protected?
According to Dr. Anurag Agrawal, director, Institute of Genomics & Integrative Biology in Delhi, "The study highlights the need for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and need for care. Good personal protection for health care workers is the key to success, else morale will be down and care will be compromised." New tests are also being conducted to detect Sars-Cov-2 from environmental samples. T
Not just PPE, but CDC has recommended to buy cloth face masks or standard N95 respirators for common public and surgical N95 face masks for health personnel to stop the spread. In fact, a high-level US scientific panel, in a meeting earlier suggested that the virus is airborne and can stay suspended in the air. Therefore, some state governments have even made it mandatory for citizens to not step out of their houses without having masks on.
Many doctors have, however, also suggested that the transmission through the air is only possible under specific circumstances and environmental conditions. WHO has confirmed that an analysis of more than 75,000 coronavirus patients in China had no indication of airborne transmission at all.
Clearly, there are many theories with regard to the COVID-19 virus. But the best we can do right now is take as many precautions as we can. After all, prevention is better than cure and we have to collectively win this fight against coronavirus.