Chinese Officials Confirm Airborne Transmission of Coronavirus in Limited Conditions

By Cathy He
Cathy He
Cathy He
Cathy He is a New York-based editor focusing on U.S. China-related topics. She previously worked as a government lawyer in Australia. She joined The Epoch Times in February 2018. Contact Cathy at
February 20, 2020Updated: February 21, 2020

The Chinese regime’s top health authority has confirmed that the novel coronavirus can be spread through the air under limited circumstances, adding a new route of transmission for the disease.

The coronavirus can be passed via aerosol transmission—that is, exposure to tiny droplets in the air containing the virus—if a person is exposed, over a long period of time, to high concentrations of aerosols carrying the virus in a relatively closed environment, according to updated guidelines published by China’s National Health Commission (NHC) on Feb. 19.

Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), measles, and H5N1 avian influenza are also capable of spreading through aerosols, which can stay in the air for a certain period of time.

Wang Guiqiang, the head of the Chinese society of infectious diseases, in a Feb. 20 press conference by China’s cabinet-like State Council noted that aerosol transmission was confined to those limited conditions set out in the guideline, adding that the virus was not transmissible through the air in normal circumstances.

A health official from Shanghai said during a Feb. 8 press conference the virus could be transferred through aerosol, although the NHC did not confirm this until the updated guideline.

Previously, the NHC provided only two main transmission routes for the virus—respiratory droplets and close contact with the infected—and said there was no evidence it could be spread through aerosol.

Respiratory droplets—which are much larger than aerosols—are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). These droplets can then land in the mouths or noses of people nearby or be inhaled into the lungs.

The CDC did not return a query from The Epoch Times as to whether it would update its advisory to incorporate this new information.

In addition, a person may also become infected by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it, and then touching their mouth, nose, or eyes, the CDC noted. An NHC official previously said data suggests the coronavirus can survive on surfaces for several hours up to five days.

Researchers have also raised concerns that the virus could be spread through fecal contamination, given that the virus has been found in stool samples from patients.

Read here for more information about the coronavirus.

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