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People with no symptoms can also spread COVID-19: WHO

By B N Kumar

MUMBAI, July 10, 2020: Answering a question on the possibility of COVID virus spreading by air, World Health Organisation (WHO) has sounded a note of caution and said: Some medical procedures can produce very small droplets, called aerosolized droplet nuclei or aerosols, that are able to stay suspended in the air for longer periods of time. When such medical procedures are conducted on people infected with COVID-19 in health facilities, these aerosols can contain the COVID-19 virus. These aerosols may potentially be inhaled by others if they are not wearing appropriate personal protective equipment. 

“Therefore, it is essential that all health workers performing these medical procedures take specific airborne protection measures, including using appropriate personal protective equipment. Visitors should not be permitted in areas where such medical procedures are being performed,” WHO in its latest scientific brief.

There have been reported outbreaks of COVID-19 in some closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing, WHO noted.

“In these outbreaks, aerosol transmission, particularly in these indoor locations where there are crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces where infected persons spend long periods of time with others, cannot be ruled out.  More studies are urgently needed to investigate such instances and assess their significance for transmission of COVID-19,” the organisation said.

“Based on what we currently know, transmission of COVID-19 is primarily occurring from people when they have symptoms, and can also occur just before they develop symptoms, when they are in close proximity to others for prolonged periods of time. While someone who never develops symptoms can also pass the virus to others, it is still not clear to what extent this occurs and more research is needed in this area,” WHO said.

Limiting contact with people who are infected with COVID-19, frequent, thorough, hand cleansing and wearing a mask when at least one metre of physical distance can’t be guaranteed, help to break chains of transmission,  the organisation 

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