Is the coronavirus airborne? DOH says there's ânot enoughâ proof
A train staff wearing a protective suit guides passengers boarding a bus at a train station in Manila on July 7, 2020, after authorities suspended operation of one of the train lines after some of its staff tested positive of COVID -19 disease.
AFP/Miggy Hilario
Is the coronavirus airborne? DOH says there's ‘not enough’ proof
(Philstar.com) - July 7, 2020 - 3:20pm

MANILA, Philippines — There is insufficient proof backing the claim of over 200 scientists that the novel coronavirus can spread in tiny airborne particles, the Department of Health said Tuesday.

The World Health Organization has long maintained that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease (COVID019), spreads primarily through small droplets generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

But in a comment piece 239 scientists said there is "significant potential for inhalation exposure to viruses in microscopic respiratory droplets at short to medium distances." The experts asked the United Nations Health Agency to acknowledge that the virus can spread in the air—a change that could affect some measures taken to contain the pandemic.

In an interview on ABS-CBN News Channel, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there was insufficient proof of airborne transmission of the novel coronavirus.

“We are studying all of these articles that are coming out every day and still, there are not enough evidence at this moment to specifically say it is airborne,” Vergeire said.

“We are still working on that concept that COVID is transmitted via droplet infection,” she added.

The DOH official urged the public to strictly follow health protocols to prevent the transmission of the virus.

“There are lots of ways in which a person can be infected. Sometimes even though you wear your mask, you wash your hands, there might be times that you might miss out on being cautious and you will be able to get this,” she said.

In a scientific brief posted on March 27, the WHO said airborne transmission may only be possible in specific circumstances and settings in which procedures that generate aerosols are performed.

Vergeire added that the agency is still gathering more evidence on a study published in journal Cell that a mutation in the novel coronavirus makes it spread faster.

The total number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines reached 46,333 Tuesday after the DOH added 2,099 infections to its tally. The recent spike in virus cases was attributed to “increased contact among the population” as the government further eased restrictions on movement nationwide. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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