The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, could be transmitted through the air, a study released on March 29 suggests.
The study, authored by researchers from the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC), the National Strategic Research Institute at the University of Nebraska, and others, analyzed air samples in the rooms of CCP virus patients and found “high levels of the virus contamination.”
However, the researchers stressed that their findings do not prove the virus spreads “in an airborne fashion.”
“The identification of genetic material from the virus that causes COVID-19 in air samples found in this study provides limited evidence that some potential for airborne transmission exists,” the researchers emphasized.
More research needs to be carried out to confirm the virus can be transmitted through the air, they added.
Air and surface samples from the rooms of 11 confirmed virus patients were taken and analyzed by the researchers, who found traces of SARS-CoV-2—the name of the virus that causes COVID-19—present.
Traces of the virus were also detected in “air samplers from hallways outside of rooms where [the] staff was moving in and out of doors,” the researchers said.
They said the study’s findings indicate the disease might be spread though both direct (droplet and person-to-person) as well as indirect contact (contaminated objects and airborne transmission).
It also “suggests airborne isolation precautions could be appropriate,” the authors added, suggesting that patients “may create aerosols of virus and contaminate surfaces that may pose a risk for transmission.”
A separate study (pdf) published earlier this month by researchers from the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UCLA, and Princeton University, suggested that the CCP virus can remain in the air for up to 3 hours.
They stressed, however, that the findings do not prove that anyone has been infected through breathing the virus from the air.
“We’re not by any way saying there is aerosolized transmission of the virus,” said study leader Neeltje van Doremalen at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. However, van Doremalen added that transmission in this way is theoretically possible as research suggests that the virus stays viable for long periods in those conditions.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) on Sunday dismissed claims that the virus is airborne in a statement.
“The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly transmitted through droplets generated when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or speaks,” the WHO wrote on Twitter. “These droplets are too heavy to hang in the air. They quickly fall on floors or surfaces.”
“To protect yourself, keep at least one meter distance from others and disinfect surfaces that are touched frequently. Regularly clean your hands thoroughly and avoid touching your eyes, mouth, and nose,” the U.N. agency added.
Last month, the WHO also stated in a report (pdf) that airborne spread has not been reported for COVID-19, adding, “It is not believed to be a major driver of transmission based on available evidence.”