The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) says there are possibilities that coronavirus (COVID-19) can be transmitted through the air.
NCDC Director-General, Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, who disclosed this on Monday at the briefing of the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on COVID-19, attributed it to new evidence.
According to him, the disease is believed to only be transmittable through droplets that emanate from the nose and the mouth and fall to the ground.
The NCDC boss said, “Over the past few weeks, increasing evidence has emerged that in addition to droplet infections; we cannot rule out that airborne transmission is also possible as a mode of transmission of COVID-19.
“Understanding the modes of transmission of any new virus is very critical for defining response strategies. For COVID-19, from the very beginning, our understanding based on other coronaviruses that spread was primarily through droplets.”
Ihekweazu added, “Droplets are excretions from the respiratory tracts that can’t stay on in the air; they ultimately fall to the ground after a few minutes.
“However, as we have studied transmission, studied clusters of these infections, we saw increasing evidence from clusters of infections where droplet transmission did not seem to be enough to explain the clusters that we are seeing.
“Diseases that are commonly understood to be spread by what we call airborne infection are things like measles and influenza; that can be suspended in the air and transmit over longer distances.”
The NCDC boss noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has also updated its guidelines with the same position on the mode of COVID-19 transmission.
He, therefore, called on Nigerians to act in a precautionary way and assume that the virus could be transmitted through the air.
Ihekweazu also advised against indoor activities and stressed the need to re-emphasise safety protocols against COVID-19.
On Sunday night, Nigeria reported 571 new cases of COVID-19 from 19 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The NCDC confirmed that a total of 343 more patients were successfully treated and discharged from various isolation centres in the country.
Since the outbreak of the disease in the country in late February, Nigeria has confirmed 32,558 positive cases of COVID-19 with 13,447 discharged and 740 others dead.