Is COVID-19 airborne? Only in confined hospital settings, says DOH

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 18 2020 12:03 PM

The Ortigas business district on the first day of the implementation of Enhanced Community Quarantine in Luzon on March 17, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Department of Health clarified Wednesday that the rapidly spreading new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) may only be airborne in confined hospital settings.

Latest studies show that COVID-19 is still transmitted through droplet transmissions and close contact with a person infected with the disease, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

Vergeire made the clarification in response to a US study that showed that when the virus is carried by the droplets released when someone coughs or sneezes, it remains viable, or able to still infect people, in aerosols for at least three hours.

“Ito pong artikulong ito ay tinutukoy nila mga setting ng ospital… So 'yung airborne na sinasabi is in a confined hospital setting,” she said.

(The study refers to hospitals settings…So the airborne transmission that they are referring to is in a confined hospital setting.)

“Ito pong sakit na COVID-19 is still transmitted through droplet transmissions and close contact,” she said.

COVID-19 may be fatal for the elderly, the immunocompromised, and those with underlying medical condition but 80 percent of cases globally showed a high chance of recovery "without needing special treatment," according to the World Health Organization.

WHO said COVID-19 symptoms include fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea.

The spread of the disease has been classified as a global pandemic that prompted the Philippines to declare a state of public health emergency, state of calamity, and lock down the northern island of Luzon.