The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has been a source of much confusion and fear since it first emerged in late 2019. One of the most pressing questions is whether or not the virus can be transmitted through the air. Research has shown that the virus can survive in the air for up to three hours, and that it can reach the lungs if someone who has it exhales and another person breathes in that air. Experts are divided on how often the virus spreads through the air and how much it contributes to the pandemic. However, there is evidence that COVID-19 can spread through particles and droplets in the air.
People who are infected with the virus can release respiratory fluid particles and droplets containing SARS-CoV-2 into the air when they exhale. These droplets carry the virus and can transmit the infection. In indoor environments, very fine droplets and particles can continue to propagate through the air and accumulate. This is why the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends droplet and contact precautions for people caring for patients with COVID-19, as well as airborne precautions for certain procedures and treatments.
These recommendations are consistent with other national and international guidelines, including those developed by the European Society of Intensive Care Medicine and Society of Critical Care Medicine, as well as those currently used in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom.