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Double masking to ventilated spaces: Kashmir doctors issue dos and don’ts to combat ‘airborne’ COVID

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Srinagar: Doctors in the valley have called for well-ventilated spaces and double masking to prevent the transmission of `airborne’ COVID-19.

Based on latest guidelines issued by the Union government, experts have warned that the virus can remain airborne up to a distance of 10 meters via smaller aerosol particles. Adequate ventilation is necessary to prevent transmission of the virus along with double masks and social distancing, the guidelines stated.

 

Pain Medicine and Critical Care specialist Dr Tariq Tramboo noted that the principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is through exposure to respiratory fluids carrying the infectious virus.

“However, in airborne mode, the transmission events have involved the presence of an infectious person exhaling virus indoors for an extended time (more than 15 minutes and in some cases hours) leading to virus concentrations in the air space sufficient to transmit infections to people more than 6 feet away, and in some cases to people who have passed through that space soon after the infectious person left,” Dr Tariq said.

He recommended community use of well-fitting masks (e.g., barrier face coverings, procedure/surgical masks), adequate ventilation, and avoidance of crowded indoor spaces.

“These methods will reduce transmission both from inhalation of virus and deposition of the virus on exposed mucous membranes,” Dr. Tariq said.

Lecturer at Government Medical College Srinagar Dr Suhail Naik said well-ventilated spaces play in diluting the risk of airborne transmission from one infected person to the other.

“Just as the smell can be diluted from the air through opening windows and doors and using exhaust systems, ventilating spaces with improved directional airflow decreases the accumulated viral land in the air, reducing the risk of transmission,” he said.

Dr Shahnawaz B Kaloo, a Kashmiri doctor based in Delhi said that people need to continue wearing a mask besides ensuring ample ventilation. “It is like the protection provided by a seatbelt. But sometimes even wearing a seatbelt we may have a car accident and injuries. That doesn’t mean the seatbelt is not working! so please continue to use masks and maintain appropriate COVID behavior,” Kaloo said.

When the coronavirus pandemic outbreak began last year, scientists and major world health bodies around the world claimed that SARS-CoV-2 transmitted through droplets. The global understanding was that these droplets came out of the nose or mouth of an infected person as he or she coughed, sneezed, or just spoke.

However, a year later, on April 30, the World Health Organisation (WHO) acknowledged that the Coronavirus can also be airborne. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of the USA also admitted earlier this month that the Covid-19 virus can be airborne after denying the same for a year.