The Director-General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), Dr Chikwe Ihekweazu, on Monday said that findings and emerging evidence were pointing to possible airborne transmission of COVID-19.
Speaking at the Presidential Task Force briefing on Monday, Ihekweazu said the World Health Organization (WHO) had acknowledged this reality and had also updated its guidelines to accommodate this emerging fact about COVID-19.
He said, “As I often say we are learning about this new virus. Understand the modes of transmission of any new virus is very critical for defining response strategies. For COVID-19, from the very beginning our understanding was that spread was primarily through droplets excretion from the respiratory tract.
“However, as we have studied transmission, we saw an evidence from clusters of infection that shows that droplets transmission do not seem to be the only mode of transmission.
He said finding in the last weeks were pointing to possible airborne transmission of COVID-19, adding that it was a call to adapt safety guidelines to emerging evidence.
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Ihekweazu said, “Over the past few weeks, increasing evidence have emerged that in addition to droplet transmission we cannot rule out airborne transmission of COVID-19. The World Health Organisation has updated it’s guidelines saying exactly the same thing: that we cannot rule out airborne transmission.
“So we have to act in a precautionary way assuming that this is also possible hiving the new evidence that is emerging. Why is this important? It means that staying together in closed places in clusters such as restaurants, small rooms with poor ventilation. Indoor activities are risky than outdoor activities, especially when there are many people in the room and we don’t adhere to social distancing and wear mask.
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Ihekweazu urged Nigerians to adhere to social distancing, and avoid mass gatherings as the NCDC was working to adapt its safety protocol to accommodate emerging evidence on the transmission of the virus.
“What does this mean for response? It means we must speak in louder voice on things that we have been saying. We have to strength further the avoidance of mass gatherings, or gathering of any nature.
“We have to pay attention to social distancing, wearing mask, avoid overcrowded places. We will keep adapting our guidelines inline with emerging evidence”, he said.