The World Health Organization (WHO) has directed healthcare workers to undertake ‘airborne precautions’ while treating coronavirus patients after a study published by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) disclosed that coronavirus can stay active in the air for several hours.
The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that COVID-19 particles can remain active in the air for 3 hours. Whereas, the virus particles can remain infectious on copper surfaces for up to 4 hours, 24 hours on cardboard, and 72 hours on stainless steel and plastic.
Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said that several studies have now confirmed that coronavirus can remain infectious in the air when transmitted through sneeze or cough.
Healthcare staff must exercise additional caution when they are treating patients of COVID-19. Medical staff should wear N95 respiratory masks as they can filter out 95% of airborne particles.
Following a sharp rise in coronavirus cases in Europe and the USA, DG WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that countries have not carried out enough tests, isolation, and contact tracing of coronavirus cases.
DG WHO said:
We have a simple message for all countries: test, test, and test. Test every suspected case, if they test positive, isolate them and find out who they have been in contact with two days before they developed symptoms and test those people, too.
The government of Pakistan must heed the WHO’s warning and provide adequate personal protective gear to frontline healthcare workers. Just recently, Dr. Usama Riaz succumbed to coronavirus, contracted as a result of inadequate personal protection. The 26-year old doctor was stationed at a quarantine center in Gilgit to screen pilgrims returning from Iran and Iraq.