The novel coronavirus can be transmitted to others through breathing and speaking as well, according to US researchers. The new findings are opposed to the current stance of the US health agencies that maintained that COVID-19 is spread primarily through respiratory droplets, about one millimeter in diameter, expelled by sick people when they sneeze or cough.
The recent information suggests that the virus can actually be spread even when people just speak, as opposed to coughing and sneezing, said Anthony Fauci, head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health, US.
Following the findings, President Trump said that the CDC was urging all Americans to wear a mask when they leave their homes. A week ago, the CDC’s director, Dr Robert R Redfield, had alerted that nearly a quarter of
people showing no symptoms still contribute to “significant” transmission of COVID-19.
Studies have also found that larger droplets are carried by sneezes and coughs, whereas exhaled breath can spread smaller aerosol droplets, which have a diameter of five micrometres or less.
Similarly, Wuhan researchers who conducted studies in hospitals found that there were two major areas where the virus was aerosolized: the bathrooms of patients, and rooms where medical staff removed their protective gear, reports show.
Even though these preliminary evidence suggest airborne transmission of the virus, the WHO continues to hold that there is no sufficient or compelling data to confirm the new coronavirus virus can infect via aerosols.
The WHO still recommended masks only for front-line health workers and those who are sick or caring for someone. But, some experts who work on aerosol infections say that there is not much sense in waiting for gathering unequivocal evidence for airborne transmission which could take years and cost lives.
Meanwhile, others in favour wearing masks argue that it just makes sense to have some kind of physical barrier that would reduce the droplets that are released when people speak and breathe. The idea is to protect everyone else.
Since the virus has already spread, largely undetected to most parts of the country, wearing masks or other face coverings everywhere, including in places where there are few reported cases, will help slow the rate of infection, believe CDC officials.