Vergeire: No enough evidence that COVID-19 is airborne

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, on Tuesday, said there is no enough evidence to support several scientists’ claims that COVID-19 transmission is airborne.

Vergeire said in a television interview that the Department of Health (DOH) remains reliant on the established observation that the new coronavirus could be transmitted through respiratory droplets.

“We still don’t have that strong evidence or enough evidence to really say that COVID is airborne. We are still working on that concept that COVID is transmitted by a droplet infection,” she said in an interview on ANC.

At least 239 scientists in 32 countries earlier claimed that the smaller particles of coronavirus in the air could infect people.

The scientists also appealed to the World Health Organization (WHO) to revise its earlier recommendations about COVID-19.

According to WHO, “the coronavirus disease spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks.”

Dr. Edsel Salvana, University of the Philippines’ Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology molecular biologist director, said hospitals were aware that the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV2) could be airborne.

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“Kahit dati naman po, sinasabi naman ng World Health Organization  (WHO), lalo na sa mga hospital na kung saan gumagawa po kami ng procedures na puwede pong maging airborne ‘yung virus,” he said.

(Even before, the World Health Organization (WHO) says COVID-19 could be airborne, especially in hospitals where we do procedures.)

“Pinagamit talaga ang mga healthcare workers noong mga tinatawag na N95,” he added.

(The healthcare workers were actually asked to use N95 masks.)

Salvana, however, clarified that there was no disagreement on whether the new coronavirus could be airborne or not. He noted that the considered “main mode” of transmission is through respiratory droplets.

Vergeire reiterated that a person could acquire the virus in different ways; even health measures are strictly observed.

“There might be times that you might miss out on being cautious, and you will be touching surfaces, or you might not be doing this appropriate physical distancing,” she said.

“There are a lot of ways because there is community transmission. That’s why we have to be all cautious,” she added.