World Health Organization considers airborne precautions, study shows virus can survive in air
World health officials say the respiratory disease spreads through human-to-human contact, droplets carried through sneezing and coughing as well as germs left on inanimate objects.
The coronavirus can go airborne, staying suspended in the air depending on factors such as heat and humidity, they said.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, emphasized Monday the importance of health care workers taking additional steps to protect themselves when performing some procedures on infected patients.
The everyday person shouldn’t be concerned, Van Kerkhove said, but medical staff may be susceptible when performing procedures such as intubation — where a tube is placed down a patient’s throat and into their airway to assist with breathing.
Health officials use the information to make sure WHO’s guidance is appropriate, and “so far … we are confident that the guidance that we have is appropriate,” she added.
Health officials recommend medical staff wear so-called N95 masks because they filter out about 95% of all liquid or airborne particles.
“On copper and steel, it’s pretty typical, it’s pretty much about two hours,” Redfield said at a House hearing. “But I will say on other surfaces — cardboard or plastic — it’s longer, and so we are looking at this.”
Van Kerkhove’s remarks come as health care professionals across the world battle on the front lines of COVID-19, which has infected more than 190,000 people as of Tuesday afternoon, according to a tally from John Hopkins University.
“We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, test. Test every suspected case, if they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in contact with two days before they developed symptoms and test those people, too,” Tedros said.