The Ministry of Health of Turkmenistan is urging citizens to wear protective medical masks in public due to increase the dust particles content in atmospheric air by 21% above the norm” and “to prevent adverse climate impacts on human health”.
The Ministry of Health’s cautions about increased dustiness of atmosphere due to air masses that come from outside and climate-related health effects have already been seen in the country’s media several times in last days.
Is it has something common with the attempt to prevent the possible transmission of the coronavirus by airborne-and-dust way?
For months, the World Health Organization (WHO), relying on scientific research, has insisted that the coronavirus is transmitted via droplets emitted when people cough or sneeze. Droplets that do not linger in the air, but fall onto surfaces.
That is why hand washing has been identified by the WHO as a key prevention measure. Recently, the World Health Organization has acknowledged that the airborne-and-dust transmission could not be ruled out in some settings.
It means that the virus can be spread by tiny particles suspended in the air when people talk or breath. If the evidence is confirmed, it may affect guidelines for indoor spaces, the BBC News Russia Service reports about it, which posted on its page an explanatory article about this. https://www.bbc.com/russian/features-53333484
What is airborne-and-dust transmission?
Airborne-and-dust transmission. The dust particles carry the virus or bacteria that can live in the air for several hours. It can get into your lungs if someone who has it breathes out and you breathe that air in.
These much tinier particles are suspended in the air for longer and travel further. Infections such as tuberculosis, influenza, and pneumonia are transmitted by airborne-and-dust way.
Today the WHO admitted there was evidence to suggest the coronavirus can also spread in specific settings, such as enclosed and crowded spaces.
How long the virus can survive in the air?
Research shows that the artificially sprayed coronavirus can survive in the air for up to 3 hours.
However, scientists notice that the experiments were conducted in laboratory conditions, which differ from a real-life situation, and that is why results may vary.
The cases of so-called “a superspreader event” further illustrated how easily the coronavirus can pass from person to person by airborne-and-dust way.
In the city of Mount Vernon, US, one person infected at least 45 choir members during rehearsal. Many of those who became infected later followed the social distancing rules.
A similar incident took place in China. At a restaurant in Guangzhou, one diner infected with the novel coronavirus have spread the disease to nine other people. According to researchers, one of the infected person was six meters apart from the carrier of the virus.
What is further?
Measures to combat the virus depend on a way in which it spreads. The WHO currently recommends washing hands with warm water and soap for at least 20 seconds and following social distancing recommendations.
Now, some scientists have acknowledged that these measures – although very important ones – are not enough to combat the virus, which is transmitted by airborne-and-dust way.
So far, the WHO has not revised its recommendations, but the organization is evaluating new evidence. Most probably, in the very next future, the WHO advice on how to prevent the virus spreading may have to change, and could lead to more widespread use of masks, and more rigorous social distancing, especially in bars, restaurants, and on public transport. In addition, probably, more strict rules will be applied regarding to ventilated settings.
239 scientists from 32 countries have sent an open letter to the WHO: they urged the organization to rethink its recommendations taking into account that there is strong evidence to suggest the virus can also spread by airborne-and-dust way.