Headlines April 5, 2020
Coronavirus can spread through air, say US scientists
The new coronavirus might spread through the air via normal breathing and speaking, according to a top scientist from the United States. The US government is recommending the use of face masks for everyone.
This statement was made by Anthony Fauci, who is the head of infectious diseases at the National Institutes of Health. This means that the advisory regarding masks would need to be changed. So far the official advice was that only sick people need to cover their faces, as well as those caring for them at home. On Friday, the US advised all Americans to wear masks in public.
The recommendation came as the US set a new record for the number of COVID-19 deaths in one day with 1,480 dead, the most of any country since the pandemic began. US Surgeon General Jerome Adams said the decision came because many people with the virus were showing no symptoms, but warned it was still vital to practice “social distancing” by maintaining space between people
Until now, US health agencies have said that the main pathway of transmission is respiratory droplets expelled by sick people when they sneeze or cough. These quickly fall to the ground around a meter away.
But if the virus can be suspended in the mist we expel when we exhale, it becomes much harder to prevent its spread. This means people must cover their faces. A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that the virus could remain airborne for up to three hours.
So far, the World Health Organization (WHO) has not said anything in this regard.
Until now rich countries have borne the maximum impact of the disease. There are fears now of an explosion among the world’s most vulnerable people living in conflict zones or refugee camps.
“The worst is yet to come,” said United Nationa Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, referring to countries such as Syria, Libya and Yemen. “The COVID-19 storm is now coming to all these theatres of conflict.”
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