Since the beginning of the pandemic, scientists have emphasized the possibility of airborne coronavirus spread. Last week, the World Health Organization officially confirmed that the airborne transmission of the virus is possible after a group of more than thirty researchers compiled compelling evidence for this way of spread.
According to the latest update in the WHO’s brief for coronavirus, there is a high risk of airborne transmission indoors, especially in large gatherings of people who are not following the practice of social distancing as well as other preventive measures.
Since airborne coronavirus spread is possible, it makes all indoor public spaces riskier than outdoors. Therefore, the chances of contracting the virus in offices, schools, and other places such as grocery stores are very high.
So, how can the risk of catching the coronavirus infection while going out for work or making a grocery trip be reduced?
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In accordance with research on the topic, wearing a face mask can make a significant difference. This is one of the many reasons why face covering was recommended by many of the researchers even during the early days of the pandemic.
Even though the number of cases of the coronavirus is rapidly rising in all states of the US, many people are no longer wearing masks. Prior to the easing of restrictions, people wore masks more strictly than now.
It is a common misconception that wearing a mask in the summer can increase the risk of a heat stroke or cause difficulty in breathing. Unless a person has a serious lung condition, the risk of breathing problems is very low. A heat stroke is also less likely to occur due to face covering.
Therefore, a mask should be worn whenever possible. Some experts also state people should wear a mask inside apartment buildings when doing everyday activities such as taking out the trash.
This is because many people are likely to stop and interact with a neighbor or another person. Even without talking, walking by an infected person who spread the virus can increase the risk of contracting it.
However, it should be noted that merely wearing any low-tier masks provides the least amount of protection. According to Abraar Karan, who is a physician at Harvard Medical School, every person should wear masks that provide maximum protection in an ideal setting.
Since N95 masks are already short and needed more by front line health care workers, Karan suggests wearing a properly fitted mask that covers both the mouth and nose.
Fabric masks and surgical masks can protect from the virus but the best alternative to a specialized mask is a KN95 mask.
Another important step along with wearing a mask is social distancing and avoiding close contact with people. Whenever going out, try to cut down interaction as much as possible. Do not stand near a person for more than ten minutes.
While talking, avoid being face to face being someone since doing so increases the chances of catching the virus. This step can be combined with wearing a mask everywhere for maximum protection.
Lastly, in order to stop airborne coronavirus spread in homes and personal spaces, increase ventilation. This can be done by using ultraviolet sanitizing light, installing better air ventilation systems, or simply by turning on the fans and keeping windows open.
The constant flow of air can make the virus and aerosols in the air move outwards and disperse.