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Airborne Threat? Coronavirus found in Air Samples from Patients

COVID-19 Airborne assumptions arise as a new study found air sample to COVID-19 confirmed patients.

A new study examining air samples from hospital wards with COVID-19 patients has found the virus can travel up to 13 feet (four meters) —twice the distance current guidelines say people should leave between themselves in public.

The researchers, led by a team at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing, tested surface and air samples from an ICU and a general COVID-19 ward at Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan.

They found that the virus was most heavily concentrated on the floors of the wards, “perhaps because of gravity and airflow causing most virus droplets to float to the ground.”

High levels were also found on frequently touched surfaces like computer mice, trashcans, bed rails, and doorknobs.

“Furthermore, half of the samples from the soles of the ICU medical staff shoes tested positive,” the team wrote. “Therefore, the soles of medical staff shoes might function as carriers.”

The team also looked at so-called aerosol transmission, they found that virus-laden aerosols were mainly concentrated near and downstream from patients at up to 13 feet— through smaller quantities were found upstream, up to 8 feet.

“Indicating that appropriate precautions could effectively prevent infection,” the authors wrote to prevent the members of the hospital staff from being infected.

They also offered advice that bucks orthodox guidelines: “Our findings suggest that home isolation of persons with suspected COVID-19 might not be a good control strategy” given the levels of environmental contamination.

US health authorities have adopted a more cautious line and urged people to cover their faces when out in public in case the virus can be transmitted through normal breathing and speaking.

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