New Delhi: The exact mechanism of spread of the corona virus (SARS-CoV-2) remains elusive. Epidemiologists have now found that countries whose populations wore masks during the pandemic were less affected. However, now the possibility of air transmission of Kovid has been confirmed.
A collaborative study conducted by a group of scientists from CSIR-CCMB, Hyderabad and CSIR-IMTech, Chandigarh along with hospitals in Hyderabad and Mohali confirmed airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The study is now published in the Journal of Aerosol Science.
Scientists analyzed coronavirus genome content from air samples collected from different areas occupied by COVID-19 patients. These samples were from hospitals, closed rooms and home quarantined rooms in which only COVID-19 patients had spent a short period.
They found that the virus could often be detected in the air around COVID-19 patients and the positivity rate increased with the number of patients present on the premises. The study also showed that the virus was present in ICU as well as non-ICU sections of hospitals, suggesting that patients released the virus into the air regardless of the severity of the infection.
The study found viable coronaviruses in the air, which can infect living cells and spread over long distances. Scientists recommend that one continue to wear a mask to avoid the spread of infection.
Sivaranjani Mohrir, the scientist involved in the study, said, “Our results have shown that in the absence of ventilation in closed spaces, the corona virus can remain in the air for some time. We found that the virus positivity rate in the air was 75% when two or more COVID-19 patients were present in a room, as opposed to 15.8% when one or more COVID-19 patients were not in the room.
“Our observations are concordant with previous studies showing that the concentration of SARS-CoV-2 RNA is higher in indoor air than in outdoor air,” Mohrir said. The concentration is higher in hospital and health care settings, which host a large number of COVID patients, as compared to community indoor settings.
The study’s lead scientist, Dr Rakesh Mishra, ACSIR Distinguished Emeritus Professor at CCMB and director of the Tata Institute for Genetics and Society, said, “As we return to conducting in-person activities, classes and meeting halls such as Aerial surveillance is a useful tool for predicting the infection potential of locations. This may help in refining strategies to control the spread of the infection.
He said that the aerial surveillance technology is not limited to the corona virus only, but it can also be adapted to monitor other airborne infections.
first published:May 4, 2022, 9:49 a.m.