Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has said that the COVID-19 can be contracted through airborne.
NCDC Director-General Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu said this in Abuja at the Monday briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19.
According to him, new evidence from the global community has shown that the disease can be contracted via the air.
‘Some new evidence coming out of the global community that is affecting some of our work and response strategies and that there are new learnings every day as we respond,’ he said.
‘Understanding the mode of transmission of any new virus is very critical for defining response strategy. For COVID-19 from the very beginning, our understanding based on other coronaviruses is that it can be spread primarily through droplet excretion from the respiratory tract that can’t stay on in air but ultimately fall to the ground after a few minutes.
‘However, as we have studied transmission, we saw increasing evidence from clusters of infection that droplets transmission does not seem to be enough to explain the clusters that we are seeing.
‘Over the past few weeks, increasing evidence has emerged that in addition to droplet infection, we cannot rule out that airborne transmission is also possible as a mode of transmission of COVID-19 and World Health Organisation (WHO) has updated its guidelines on this, saying exactly the same thing,’ Ihekweazu said.
The NCDC boss said that what this means is that staying together in close spaces and clusters such as in restaurants, small rooms with very poor ventilation increases the risk of transmission.
He added: ‘Indoor activities are riskier than outdoor activities especially when there are many people in a room, when they don’t adhere to distancing and when people don’t wear masks.
‘This means we have to strengthen further the avoidance of mass gatherings or gatherings of any nature in small spaces. So we have to pay attention to ventilation, distancing, stay outside as preferred to inside, continue to wash your hands and absolutely wear a mask whenever we are outside the home.
‘We will keep adapting our guidelines as we progress. It is not shameful to change your guidelines from week to week as new evidence emerges. That is what we are committed to doing.
‘To guide the response by our leaders, to give them the best evidence possible to make the very hard decisions they need to make collectively as we learn to live with this outbreak as safely as possible over the months to come,’ Ihekweazu said.