Science still probing coronavirus 2019

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    THE coronavirus that causes the disease COVID-19 has been with mankind for almost a year now but the international scientific community is still at a loss on its real characteristics.

    The latest info comes from the United States Center for Disease Control (CDC) which says the dreaded respiratory disease can spread through viruses lingering in the air, sometimes for hours. This finding supports the concerns of many public health experts that airborne transmission of the virus is a problem.

    It was in fact in July when the CDC first came out with this public warning, beamed specifically to the American people but also applies to the rest of the world. But they took it down a few days later, confirming that even US virologists and experts are in doubt about airborne transmission. This stokes the narrative, the debate over what is the most common transmission of the SARS-CoV-2, the scientific name of this particular coronavirus.

    ‘… they took it down a few days later, confirming that even US virologists and experts are in doubt about airborne transmission.’

    Chinese scientists were the first to study the genome sequence of this virus, followed by those in Europe and the Americas. Work by scientists in Norfolk, United Kingdom contributed in mapping the spread of the virus, identified hidden outbreaks and provided insights into the effectiveness of interventions to stop its spread.

    The scientific community noted that over 1,500 COVID-19 genomes representing 42 percent of positive cases during the first wave of infections were sequenced in UK, while experts in Australia, Spain, India and the US also did much of the work.

    If our own Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) is true to its avowed strategy that it is guided by science and facts in fighting the pandemic in the Philippines, it should be aware of these developments overseas, especially the latest CDC warning.

    US scientists have warned that small droplets or aerosols can carry the virus and remain suspended in the air, like smoke. Researchers have established that aerosols can remain in the air for seconds to hours, travel more than 2 meters and accumulate in poorly ventilated indoor air. They say the focus should be on protecting against airborne transmission.

    The experts’ advice is to improve the quality of indoor air, continue with wearing face masks and social distancing, and lastly — which is new to the IATF — moving activities outdoors.

    In the wake of the latest findings, perhaps the IATF and President Duterte should review the general plan against the pandemic.