The exact mechanism of the spread of coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) has remained elusive. Previously thought to be spread through surfaces, epidemiologists have now found that countries whose populations wore masks during the pandemic were affected less. However, quantitative evidence showing the infection spreading through coronavirus particles (virions) in the air was lacking. However, the possibility of airborne transmission of Covid has been confirmed now.
A collaborative study by a group of scientists from CSIR-CCMB, Hyderabad and CSIR-IMTech, Chandigarh, with hospitals in Hyderabad and Mohali, confirmed the airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2. The study is now published in the Journal of Aerosol Science.
The scientists analysed the coronavirus genome content from air samples collected from different areas occupied by Covid-19 patients. These samples were collected from hospitals, closed rooms in which only Covid-19 patients spent a short period, and houses of home-quarantined Covid-19 patients.
They found that the virus could be frequently 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 revealed that the virus was present in the ICU as well as the non-ICU sections of hospitals, suggesting that patients released the virus in the air irrespective of the severity of infection.
The study found viable coronavirus in the air that could infect living cells and these could spread over long distances. Scientists suggest continuing to wear masks to avoid the spread of the infection.