Public Health Physician and Infectious Disease Expert, Prof. Bayo Onajole, says purifying the air of enclosed environment may be effective in destroying coronavirus in the air.
Onajole, however, noted that purifying the general environment with the aim of destroying the infectious virus would not only be difficult but also ineffective.
The public health expert was reacting to a report published in Nature, an open access online journal, which indicated that efforts to prevent COVID-19 spread should focus on improving ventilation or installing rigorously tested air purifiers because the virus transmits through the air in both large and small droplets.
Onajole said while purifying the air to kill coronavirus could be effective, such an approach could be useless in the general environment.
“Virus in aerosols and droplets are two ways by which infection spreads. However, the virus in droplets cannot last very long except it is helped by some environmental factors.
“Purifying enclosed environment could help kill the virus. It could be like using insecticides to kill mosquitoes.
“It would, however, be difficult to purify the general environment. This is because the environment is affected by other factors like the weather condition. It is also not going to be an efficient exercise when it comes to destroying the virus.
“Such an exercise may also be difficult to sustain,” he said.
The report, as published by Nature, indicated that the World Health Organisation and public health agencies need to clarify their advice on COVID-19 prevention because studies have shown that SARS-COV-2 is transmitted predominantly through the air by people talking and breathing out large droplets and small particles called aerosols.
The report said catching COVID-19 from surfaces – although possible – seems rare, arguing that tackling aerosols rather than cleaning surfaces could be more beneficial.
“Now that it is agreed that the virus transmits through the air, in both large and small droplets, efforts to prevent spread should focus on improving ventilation or installing rigorously tested air purifiers.
“People must also be reminded to wear masks and maintain a safe distance. At the same time, agencies such as the WHO and the CDC need to update their guidance on the basis of current knowledge.
“Research on the virus and COVID-19 moves quickly, so public-health agencies have a responsibility to present clear, up-to-date information that provides what people need to keep themselves and others safe,” it said.
Prof. Onajole, however, reiterated that the efficient way to prevent infection through a virus in aerosols in the environment remained using the barrier method of prevention by wearing face masks.
“The face mask serves as a barrier between the virus in the environment and the person wearing it,” he said.
According to the WHO, current evidence, suggest that COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory droplets and contact routes
“Droplet transmission occurs when a person is in close contact (within 1 m) with someone who has respiratory symptoms (e.g., coughing or sneezing) and is therefore at risk of having his/her mucosae (mouth and nose) or conjunctiva (eyes) exposed to potentially infective respiratory droplets.
“Transmission may also occur through fomites in the immediate environment around the infected person. Therefore, the transmission of the COVID-19 virus can occur by direct contact with infected people and indirect contact with surfaces in the immediate environment or with objects used on the infected person (e.g., stethoscope or thermometer),” WHO stated.
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