It is hard to believe that only two months had passed when we first heard about the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 that has the world on edge. It is spreading so fast that it will not come as a surprise if new COVID-19 patients are added to the 95,285 cases, as of this writing.
5 ways COVID-19 can spread
While there are many things we still do not know at this point, we know that COVID-19 doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. But health experts have been piecing together the various ways that coronavirus transmission takes place. Make no mistake — this novel coronavirus is contagious. So knowing how it is transmitted can help us protect ourselves and our families better.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronavirus transmission is thought to take place primarily through person-to-person contact. It is why patients (and those exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19) need to be isolated either in the hospital or at home — depending on how ill he or she is — until he or she no longer poses a risk of infecting others.
COVID-19 can be spread through the droplets of an infected individual’s cough or sneeze. The New York Times says viruses are transmitted through viral droplets or droplets that contain viral particles.
Kin-on Kwok, a professor of virology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, tells the newspaper that a virus cannot go anywhere without being attached to droplets of mucus or saliva, which can be ejected from the nose and mouth when you cough, sneeze, laugh, sing, breathe, and talk. Experts believe coughing and sneezing are the likeliest methods of coronavirus transmission.
Viral droplets need to enter through the eyes, nose, or mouth to gain access to a person’s cells. So, one way of getting infected is by being too close to a sick person (surgical masks are ideal for those who are sick.) The CDC says standing within six feet of an infected individual can increase the risk of infection.
Meanwhile, Christian Lindmeier, a spokesperson for the World Health Organization, tells The New York Times that it’s best to stay at least three feet away from someone who’s sick.
Live Science notes that another method of coronavirus transmission could be through feces, though the evidence to prove this is still limited. A small study that looked at the stool samples of individuals with COVID-19 discovered viral particles in those stools appeared viable when observed under a microscope. “This means that stool samples may contaminate hands, food, water, etc.,” reads the researchers’ report.
As a previous SmartParenting.com.ph article notes, the spread of a disease through the fecal-oral route occurs when an infected individual forgets to wash his or her hands properly after using the toilet. Everything he or she touches becomes contaminated with the virus.
Contact with infected surfaces
According to one study, The New York Times writes, coronaviruses can remain on metal, glass, and plastic for a period ranging from two hours to nine days, that. It doesn’t matter whether the surface looks dirty or clean. It doesn’t matter whether the surface looks dirty or clean. As long as you touch a surface infected by individual sick of coronavirus, there is a possibility of transmission.
The good news is coronaviruses are relatively easy to destroy, as Gary Whittaker, a professor of virology at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, tells The New York Times. He says using a disinfectant on an infected surface is “nearly guaranteed” to destroy the envelope surrounding a microbe, rendering it harmless.
Another critical thing to do is to wash your hands with soap and water before touching your face. The New York Times says doing so can reduce your risk of infection since viral droplets do not pass through the skin.
On the plane
If you are planning on traveling amid the COVID-19 outbreak, you might be concerned about the possibility of coronavirus transmission inside an aircarft. National Geographic writes that factors like the location of your seat could have an impact on your risk of getting infected.
In 2018, a group called the “FlyHealthy Research Team” observed the behaviors of passengers and crew aboard 10 transcontinental flights in the U.S., which lasted three to five-and-a-half hours. One of their findings is choosing a window seat and staying there throughout the flight can lower your likelihood of having contact with someone who might be infected, National Geographic reports.
However, Howard Weiss, a professor of biology and mathematics at Pennsylvania State University and one of the leaders of the study, says that even passengers in middle and aisle seats have a “fairly low probability” of infection because most of the contact between airplane passengers is quite short.
“If you’re seated in an aisle seat, certainly there will be quite a few people moving past you, but they’ll be moving quickly,” Weiss explains to National Geographic. “In aggregate, what we show is there’s quite a low probability of transmission to any particular passenger.”
This could all change, though, if the infected individual is an airplane crew member. The study says a sick crew member has a probability of infecting 4.6 passengers since they spend much more time walking down the aisles and interacting with passengers, which means they are more likely to have additional and longer close encounters with them.
Emily Landon, medical director of antimicrobial stewardship and infection control at the University of Chicago Medicine, tells National Geographic that the best way to minimize the likelihood of coronavirus transmission on a plane is to follow the CDC’s guidance for infectious diseases. These tips include washing your hands with soap and water, using an alcohol-based sanitizer after touching any surface, not touching your face, and avoiding contact with coughing passengers.