Can the novel coronavirus spread through the air?
It's a possibility according to the World Health Organization, but more evidence still needs to be gathered and interpreted before it can be known for certain.
Nonetheless, the agency recently acknowledged the risk of airborne spread and updated its guidelines on the modes of transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing COVID-19.
The WHO previously said that the virus is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets such as saliva or other secretions. However, it also noted that airborne transmission is also concern in specific circumstances, such as medical procedures that generate aerosols.
In an episode of "Fact or Fake," Assistant Professor Francis Abrantes of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Department of Biological Sciences explained the difference between droplets and aerosols.
Respiratory droplets have a size of five micrometers to 10 micrometers in diameter, while aerosols or droplet nuclei have a size of less than five micrometers.
The WHO said droplet transmission involves either direct or indirect contact with persons infected with COVID-19.
Aerosol transmission, meanwhile, could occur in enclosed spaces without proper ventilation, where it can hang for a long time and possibly infect others through inhalation.
"May mga pag-aaral pa nga ngayon na hindi lang siya tumatagal nang tatlong oras, tumatagal pa siya sa katagalan ng 16 hours," Abrantes said.
Department of Health Undersecretary Dr. Teodoro Herbosa said everyone should now put a distance of at least two meters or six feet from other people to lower the risk of catching COVID-19.
"Dati kasi one to two meters di ba, confident na tayo with the droplet at one meter. So ngayon pag makikipag usap ka dalawang metro ang layo mo sa kausap mo para hindi mo malanghap."
He also said that everyone should avoid speaking in enclosed spaces such as public transportation.
"Huwag na tayo magsalita masyado kagaya sa loob ng tren, sa loob ng bus, sa loob ng jeepney, at kahit na doon sa mga taxi," he said. —MGP, GMA News