Hyderabad: Ringing the alarm bells, Telangana director of public health Dr. Srinivas Rao has warned that the state might witness the worst of COVID-19. Amid a surge in new cases, the officials confirmed that the new variant of coronavirus is airborne resulting in the rapid spread of the virus.
In January this year, a study done by the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, and the CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTech), Chandigarh, had warned that the virus is airborne and can remain in the atmosphere for two hours.
Scientists conducting the study had worked with six hospitals – three each in Hyderabad and Chandigarh - to find if the virus particles can be found in air samples in the hospital wards. They used an air sampler that collected the virus particles and then looked for their presence using RT-PCR.
The study found the virus in air samples from COVID-19 wards but not from non-COVID-19 wards. This suggests that the demarcation of hospital zones has been an effective strategy. The study also showed that the chances of getting infected with the SARS-CoV-2 from the air are directly related to number of COVID-19 positive cases in the room, their symptomatic status, and the duration of exposure.
S"Till the vaccine is available, social vaccine i.e. wearing a mask is the best prevention," Dr Sanjeev Khosla, the director of IMTech, had said.
Dr. Rakesh Mishra, the director of CCMB and the corresponding author on the study, had added, "All these findings show that the coronavirus can stay in the air for some time. But they also strengthen the importance of COVID-19 preventive guidelines that we already have in place to curb this pandemic. If we ensure that we follow hygiene protocols such as regularly washing hands, using masks, and preventing symptomatic people from mixing with the public, we can start getting back to normalcy more comfortably. Detecting and isolating positive cases early on can help prevent the spread among other family members in a home setting too."
Months later, the Telangana health officials have confirmed that the new variant of the virus is airborne and have cautioned citizens of rapid spread.