Coronavirus Transmission: Most Common Ways COVID-19 Spreads
From the time that we got to know about the outbreak of the novel coronavirus, all doctors and health experts are telling us that washing hands is extremely important. Moreover, we need to disinfect and sanitize every surface that we touch, and cough only on our sleeve or harm. However, it is highly difficult to be particular about so many tiny details. Therefore, Americans have finally resorted to advance measures such as lockdown, social distancing, and quarantine. Having said that, it is also true that all of us need to go out at some point or the other. For example, there is no other option if you want to go to the pharmacy, doctor, or for some groceries. So, where or when can you exactly pick up the virus? Find out the most common ways of coronavirus transmission.
According to the latest research reports published by The New England Journal of Medicine, several scientists have come together to a conclusion. Based on their research, we find that any airborne or aerosolized particles are capable of spreading the dangerous virus. So, it is good to be aware of the fact that there might be a chance of aerosolized particles irrespective of where you go. So, what exactly is an “aerosolized” particle? A similar term to the same is a “respiratory droplet”. Now, if you are still confused about the breakdown of the explanation, it is time you understand which medium is the most contagious in this context.
Is a droplet more contagious or a particle?
First of all, respiratory droplets are not at all the same as aerosolized particles. Particles are much smaller than droplets and more precisely microscopic. According to the medical director of diagnostic microbiology at the Houston Methodist Hospital S. Wesley Long, the best example of an aerosolized particle is fog. As the term suggests, aerosolized particles move around in the air. Moreover, they can travel very long distances and can get into your lungs quite easily too. Wesley Long added that a respiratory droplet is usually around 20 times bigger than a particle. Besides, a particle travels almost six feet before it falls on the ground.
The best part about aerosolized particles is that they are present only in specific conditions and don’t affect a person much usually. So, it is very unlikely that you will pick up any kind of infection through aerosols. However, according to another study, it is quite harmful because aerosols stay in the air for quite a couple of hours. The theory was supported by an associate professor of medicine and head of infectious diseases at the Toledo University named Jennifer Hanrahan.
Aerosols are a major reason why doctors and health works are at a high risk of picking up the infection. For example, aerosolizing methods such as intubation are capable of serious contamination. On the other hand, expert Kirsten Hokeness says that other methods can urge the spreading of aerosols. Such procedures include oxygen therapy, CPR, scoping, and more. Hokeness is an expert in various subjects including immunology, microbiology, virology, disease, human health, and more. Besides these, she is a professor and department head of technology and science at Bryant University.
Her logic is that when viral fluids like mucus or saliva are disturbed, they stay in the air stuck to moisture droplets or dust. Apart from air circulation, general human activities such as touching random surfaces can also enhance virus communication. On the contrary, respiratory droplets are larger and so deposit on the ground as soon as they get discharged in the air.
According to Professor Kirsten Hokeness, the major point of difference in the case of a respiratory droplet is that the virus is enclosed into the same usually. They are released when a person coughs or sneezes, and the range of these are quite limited. So, if someone has to pick the infection, the person must stay within a range of 3-4 feet with the affected person. It is also the reason why six feet is the minimum distance to be maintained according to WHO guidelines.
The big question now is whether aerosols are the most dangerous or droplets. According to Professor Hanrahan, aerosols cannot be more dangerous. It is because in that case, the COVID-19 figures would have been much higher. For example, the infection of measles is airborne. So, if a person catches measles, he/she is capable of infecting almost fifteen more people. However, in the case of COVID-19, an infected person can communicate the virus to a maximum of two or three people.
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In old research in the labs of Wuhan in China, 35 out of 35 air samples were negative justifying the above explanation. Also, the theory of aerosols makes it evident that droplets are more dangerous anytime. You must know that such droplets can easily be transferred if someone coughs on frequently touched surfaces or their hands. The research on coronavirus transmission modes regarding COVID-19 is still on. Scientists from all over the world are trying to find better explanations and theories regarding the same too. You will be happy to know that the virus cannot sustain much on porous surfaces such as fabric or cardboard. However, on plastic or stainless steel, the virus survives better and up to three days.
How to stay protected against the virus?
You must know that anybody can pick up the virus from anywhere, and so staying at home is the best thing to do. Moreover, it is a suggestion that you be careful about everything that you touch so that you can sanitize or disinfect the same. Besides, it is important to make sure that you stay away from people who are suffering from flu-like symptoms. It is a way of staying extra protected. The best idea is to get home enough necessary items so that you can refrain from going out more often.
It is important to shield yourself properly whenever you have an emergency and need to go out. Wear a proper mask, gloves, and cap for the best protection. You can also use face shields when you are going to any public place. Also, maintaining distance is a must to reduce the possibilities of coronavirus transmission.