School Bus

A Chinese bus once again demonstrates the spread of Covid-19 in the air

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By observing the circulation of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on a bus, researchers have new evidence that Covid-19 is transmitted through the air. "This research suggests that, in closed environments where air is recirculated, SARS-CoV-2 is a highly transmissible pathogen," say the authors.

The Covid-19 has not finished revealing all its secrets. Symptoms, sequelae, treatments, researchers are discovering pieces of the puzzle every day. On Tuesday, September 1, the findings of a new study shed light on the spread of the virus.

In January, at the beginning of what was to become this global epidemic, a person on a stuffy Chinese bus infected nearly 20 passengers when not all were seated near her. On January 19, 2020, the passengers were transferred, on two different buses, to an event in a Chinese city. Nobody wore a mask. The sick passenger did not present any symptoms of the disease at the time of the bus trip. Without a doubt, he is one of the first patients, he had previously been in contact with people in Wuhan, where the epidemic had started. This man was sitting on the right side in a row in the middle of car number 2, between two other passengers. A total of 23 passengers on this bus, out of 68, were infected. No cases were reported on the other bus. New evidence that the disease can be spread through the air. The findings of this study were published in Jama Internal Medicine.

"A highly communicable pathogen"

The team found that the virus infected passengers in the front and rear of the bus, outside of the 1-2 meter perimeter often cited by health officials. Investigators say the air conditioning installed on the bus recirculated the air inside the bus, which likely contributed to the spread of the virus. "Research suggests that, in closed environments with recirculating air, SARS-CoV-2 is a highly transmissible pathogen," they wrote. And to continue: "Our discovery of a possible airborne transmission is of great importance to public health."

Over the weeks, evidence is emerging about the airborne transmission of Covid-19. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) warned that the virus could very well be transmitted through the air: "We recognize that evidence is emerging in this area and therefore we must be open to this possibility, and understand its implications. It cannot be rule out the possibility of airborne transmission in particularly crowded public places. However, the evidence must be collected and interpreted. " Thus, the WHO recommended "effective ventilation in closed places and physical distancing. When this is not possible, we recommend the use of a mask."

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