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WHO admits airborne transmission of COVID-19: Does this affect situation in India

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New Delhi, May 06: As India grapples with second wave of coronavirus pandemic, questions are being raised about routes of transmission for the disease. Scientists are now strongly advocating inhaling small airborne droplets is probable as a third route of infection, besides more widely recognised transmission via larger respiratory droplets and direct contact with COVID-19 infected people.

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While evidence for airborne transmission of COVID-19 is currently not conclusive, many authors have backed their claim, calling for immediate modification of established COVID-19 protocols.

What does airborne disease mean?

Unlike what many of us think, airborne does NOT mean outside air is contaminated. It means the virus may remain suspended in the air typically in indoor settings and pose a risk.

Recently, the World Health Organisationadmitted that the possibility of COVID-19 spreading in an indoor or poorly-ventilated setting does exist.

"Current evidence suggests that the virus spreads mainly between people who are in close contact with each other, typically within 1 metre (short-range). A person can be infected when aerosols or droplets containing the virus are inhaled or come directly into contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth," the WHO said in an updated guidelines.

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"The virus can also spread in poorly ventilated and/or crowded indoor settings, where people tend to spend longer periods of time. This is because aerosols remain suspended in the air or travel farther than 1 metre (long-range)," it added.

"People may also become infected by touching surfaces that have been contaminated by the virus when touching their eyes, nose or mouth without cleaning their hands.

" Further research is ongoing to better understand the spread of the virus and which settings are most risky and why. Research is also under way to study virus variants that are emerging and why some are more transmissible.

Where does COVID-19 spread easily?
• Crowded places;
• Close-contact settings, especially where people have conversations very near each other;
• Confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation.

Does this change things in India?

No, the Centre has advised people to wear masks even at home amid concerns that the virus remains suspended in the air in the form of aerosol.

Earlier, the government would talk about wearing mask outdoors, but since the infection has spread, people should wear a mask even at home. Also, the government has also urged people who has covid-like symptoms to isolate immediately, in order to break the chain of transmission.

How do I reduce the risk of COVID-19?
• Follow local guidance
• Keep your distance
• Wear a mask
• Avoid crowded places, poorly ventilated, indoor locations and avoid prolonged contact with others.
• Spend more time outdoors than indoors.
• Avoid touching surfaces
• Frequently clean your hands with soap and water, or an alcohol-based hand rub.
• Cover your coughs and sneezes with a bent elbow or tissue, throwing used tissues into a closed bin right away.
• Get vaccinated:

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