Chief Medical Officer in the Ministry of Health Dr Roshan Parasram says they are monitoring developments surrounding the airborne transmission of COVID-19.
Responding to a question on the latest development at the ministry’s virtual press conference yesterday, Parasram assured the ministry was keeping “an eye” on it.
“I have not seen any evidence coming from the scientific sector in Trinidad indicating we have aerosolisation outside of what we previously mentioned but we would continue to follow the emerging new trends in terms of the viral behaviour and of course adapt our public health response as need be,” Parasram said.
Should this be true, Parasram said there would need to be a more stringent adherence to the public health measures outlined by the ministry.
“Aerosolisation in general increases the rate at which any virus spreads, so there’s an increased risk of spread in the population. So if it is the case we are dealing with an aerosolised virus, the public health measures we have in place need to be adhered to in a more stringent fashion, especially wearing masks in public,” he said.
The novel coronavirus has previously been thought to be transmitted through droplets from an infected person. However, if the emerging evidence is to be proven, this would mean the virus could travel further and linger in the air longer than initially anticipated. This could also decrease the effectiveness of cloth masks at preventing the transmission of the virus.
However, with the current evidence before them, the Chief Medical Officer said the current public health measures would suffice to protect the population.
In an open letter to the World Health Organisation (WHO), over 200 scientists from 32 countries challenged the WHO’s position that the virus was only being transmitted only via droplets. The scientists said the WHO underestimated the possibility of airborne transmission, citing emerging evidence of it occurring. Since the publishing of the letter, the WHO has acknowledged the possibility of airborne transmission. However, that evidence would need to be thoroughly evaluated before the scientists’ conclusion can be accepted.