MANILA - The Philippine government must implement new guidelines in preventing COVID-19 transmission amid more evidence that the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is airborne, a neurosurgeon said Monday.
A team of American, British and Canadian scientists said they have found new evidence of how the COVID-19 virus can infect people by remaining airborne, according to a study published in scientific journal The Lancet.
"Superspreading events account for substantial SARS-CoV-2 transmission; indeed, such events may be the pandemic's primary drivers," the report said.
It added that long-range transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between people in adjacent rooms but never in each other's presence has been documented in quarantine hotels.
The Department of Health, however, said current safety protocols are sufficient to deal with the spread of more infectious variants of the virus.
"Kailangan i-emphasize na natin itong mga bagong findings. Kaya tayo nandito ngayon, kailangan ipaalam sa bawat isa na nasa hangin ang COVID," Dr. Ronnie Baticulon told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(We need to emphasize these new findings. This is why we're here, we need to inform everyone that COVID is airborne.)
"Halimbawa, may isang taong may COVID-19 kahit magsalita lang siya o umubo nang walang mask kung siya ay nasa isang kulob na kuwarto, ang virus na 'yun ay mananatili sa kwarto at maaaring makahawa kahit malayo pa sa akin."
(For example, there's a person with COVID-19 and if he speaks or coughs without a face mask in an enclosed room, the virus will remain there and might infect me even if he's far away.)
Air must flow naturally in transportation vehicles and electric fans are preferable than aircons without HEPA filters or those that only recycle air within a room, said Baticulon.
The public is also urged to wear high quality or medical face masks securely so as to prevent air flowing inside, he said.
They are also advised against gathering, overcrowding, and remaining in an enclosed space for too long, he added.
Observing proper ventilation may also prevent the spread of tuberculosis, which is among the "top 10 killers" of Filipinos, according to Baticulon.
"Umaasa ako na 'pag napatupad natin ang pag-iwas sa airborne transmission, malay mo yun pala ang solusyon susi para bumaba ang TB sa Pilipinas. Pag maganda ang airflow, hindi rin siya madali makakahawa," he said.
(I hope that our enforcement of airborne transmission prevention might be the solution to lower TB in the Philippines. If airflow is good, it won't easily infect anyone.)