The Coronavirus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes or speaks. These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air and because of that they quickly fall on floors or surfaces. As per the World Health Organization, a person can get infected by breathing in the virus if they are within one metre of a COVID-19 patient or by touching a contaminated surface and then face or mouth without washing hands.
Recently a new study has revealed that air samples from hospital wards with Novel Coronavirus patients have found the virus can travel up to 13 feet. The primary result of the study was published on Friday, April 10, by Chinese researchers in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The new finding escalates debate on how the COVID-19 is transmitted. Scientists said that the small quantities of virus they found at this distance are not necessarily infectious. The research conducted by the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing included the tests of the surface and air samples which the scientists had collected from intensive care unit and a general COVID-19 ward at Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan between February 19 and March 2, involving 24 patients.
After the analysis of the samples, the scientists found that the new Coronavirus was heavily concentrated on the floors of the hospital wards, "perhaps because of gravity and airflow causing most virus droplets to float to the ground." They also revealed that high levels were also found on frequently touched surfaces such as computer mice, trashcans, bed rails and doorknobs. In their report, the researchers mentioned that "Half of the samples from the soles of the ICU medical staff shoes tested positive. Therefore, the soles of medical staff shoes might function as carriers."
New Coronavirus research in China
It should be noted that the team of scientists looked at the so-called aerosol transmission when the Coronavirus droplets are so fine that they become suspended and remain airborne for several hours. But in terms of cough or sneeze droplets, these fall to the ground within seconds. The Beijing researchers said that as per their investigation the virus-laden aerosols were concentrated near and downstream from patients at up to 13 feet, while smaller quantities were found upstream, up to eight feet.
However, the scientists clarified that none of the employees of the hospital was infected by the COVID-19 which indicates that appropriate precautions could effectively prevent the disease transmission. They also mentioned that as per their findings home isolation of persons with suspected Coronavirus might not be a good control strategy, given the levels of environmental contamination.
The battle against Coronavirus is not very easy
While WHO recently faced accusation for downplaying the Coronavirus risk, health authorities in the US continuously asked people to cover their faces when out in public in case the virus can be transmitted through normal breathing and speaking. Meanwhile, the global death toll crossed 102, 000 mark and US reported 2,108 coronavirus deaths in 24 hours, the highest daily increase in the country since the outbreak started.
On Saturday, China also reported a rise in new Coronavirus cases, as authorities try to head off the second wave of infections, especially from imported and asymptomatic cases, as curbs on cities and travel are lifted. The National Health Commission said 46 new cases were reported on Friday, while they found 34 new asymptomatic cases in China.
Meanwhile, people infected by the deadly virus recently described a horrifying new symptom. While many sufferers have reported breathlessness, aches and pains, fatigue, diarrhoea, headaches and sore eyes among other symptoms, some people in the UK experiencing a new symptom, a 'fizzing' or 'buzzing' feeling in their skin. An infected patient wrote on Twitter, "Still there are lingering 'COVID' feelings. Do you get that? Hard to describe the alien, dissociated buzz in some parts of my body. I'm fine, but there's an element of exhaustion and physical weariness."
In response to the tweet another netizen said, "Wow, I thought I was imagining the buzzing, fizzing type feeling," while another sufferer tweeted, "9 days I've been feeling symptoms."