COVID-19 air­borne transmission likely; wear face mask, stay at home if pos­si­ble

The gov­ern­ment has ap­pealed to the pub­lic to ob­serve health pre­cau­tions, in­clud­ing stay­ing at home if possible, wear­ing of masks, and ob­serv­ing safe dis­tanc­ing from oth­ers, af­ter global health au­thor­i­ties recognized the pos­si­ble air­borne trans­mis­sion of the new coro­n­avirus that causes coro­n­avirus dis­ease (COVID-19).

(Photo by Miggy Hilario / AFP / MANILA BULLETIN)

Pres­i­den­tial spokesman Harry Roque is­sued the ap­peal to re­duce coro­n­avirus trans­mis­sions as the government left to the wis­dom of health ex­perts to dis­cuss how the con­ta­gious dis­ease spreads.

“The ac­knowl­edg­ment of the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) that COVID-19 may be passed through air is some­thing we leave to the health ex­perts. We will be fully sup­port­ive of ideas based on science and hard data,” Roque said in a state­ment on Fri­day.

“While the sci­en­tific com­mu­nity is dis­cussing the mode of trans­mis­sion of COVID-19, we call on our cit­i­zens to con­tinue ob­serv­ing min­i­mum pub­lic health stan­dards, such as wear­ing of masks, wash­ing of hands, and practic­ing so­cial dis­tanc­ing,” he said.

Roque also urged the pub­lic, par­tic­u­larly the vul­ner­a­ble mem­bers of the pop­u­la­tion, to stay in­doors as much as pos­si­ble to avoid get­ting in­fected.

“Let us con­tinue to pro­tect peo­ple who are con­sid­ered vul­ner­a­ble, which in­clude but not lim­ited to our se­nior cit­i­zens, those with co-mor­bidi­ties, preg­nant women by stay­ing at home to save lives,” he said.

“Filipinos demon­strated this be­fore, when more than 8 out of 10 peo­ple be­lieve that “stay-at-home mea­sures are worth it to save lives, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent sur­vey. We can do it again so to­gether we can heal and recover as one,” he said.

The World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion has rec­og­nized the emerg­ing ev­i­dence that coro­n­avirus can spread through tiny par­ti­cles in the air es­pe­cially in poorly ven­ti­lated build­ings. Global health au­thor­i­ties pre­vi­ously said the coro­n­avirus is trans­mit­ted through droplets when in­fected peo­ple cough or sneeze.

More than 200 sci­en­tists had ear­lier called on WHO to ac­knowl­edge the coro­n­avirus can be air­borne and to re­vise its guide­lines to re­flect such risk. They have re­port­edly rec­om­mended mea­sures such proper ven­ti­la­tion and air­borne in­fec­tion con­trols in build­ings and avoid­ing over­crowd­ing in pub­lic spa­ces to limit the spread of the dis­ease.

More than 12.2 mil­lion peo­ple across the world have been in­fected while more than 500,000 have died from the coro­n­avirus dis­ease since the out­break was re­ported in Wuhan, China last De­cem­ber.

In the Philip­pines, the cases of coro­n­avirus have soared more than 51,000 even as vary­ing lev­els of lockdowns have been in place since March. The death toll has reached 1,314 as of July 9.

Read more: DOH cautions public over possibility of airborne COVID-19 transmission