Hyderabad: According to a study done by the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, and the CSIR-Institute of Microbial Technology (IMTech), Chandigarh, the Coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, can stay airborne for two hours.
Scientists have worked with hospitals, (3 in Hyderabad and Chandigarh each) to find if the virus particles can be found in air samples in the hospital wards. They used an air sampler that can collect the virus particles, and then looked for their presence using RT-PCR.
In this study, the virus was found in air samples from COVID-19 wards from hospitals 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. In the rooms containing individuals tested positive for COVID-19, the virus was found in the air for more than two hours, and farther than two metres from their seating places. But for asymptomatic cases, it was found that the virus does not spread farther from them when they are seated in a room without a perceived air flow due to a fan or an AC.
"Till the vaccine is available, social vaccine i.e. wearing a mask is the best prevention" said Dr Sanjeev Khosla, Director, IMTech.
"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 regular handwashing, 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", said Dr Rakesh Mishra, Director, CCMB and also the corresponding author on this study.