Coronavirus is spread by aerosols, start wearing masks inside homes too: Centre

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday advised people to wear masks even at home conceding that the new strain of coronavirus that has led to a massive explosion of cases across India, is much more transmissible.

The Centre’s note of caution for people also comes amid concerns that the virus remains suspended in the air in the form of aerosol.

At a press briefing by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on the Covid situation, V K Paul, member, health (Niti Aayog) said that this is the time to be at home, not invite anyone over and avoid stepping out unnecessarily.

“If there is Covid positive case in the family, it is very important that the person wears a mask even indoors because the virus can spread to others in the home. I would rather go on to say that the time has come that we start wearing a mask at home even otherwise,” Paul, who also heads the national Covid task force, said.

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He said that so far the government would talk about wearing mask outdoors, but since the infection has spread, people should wear a mask even at home.

“The person who is infected must wear it, but even others must do it when sitting with other family members at home. The infected person should be isolated in a separate room,” Paul said adding that it’s getting clearer that coronavirus is now way more infectious than earlier.

Please wear mask even at home, don’t go out, don’t invite anyone at home, the angle on the high transmissibility of the (new strain of #SARSCoV2 ) virus is getting clearer : V K Paul @NITIAayog @NewIndianXpress #COVID19 #COVIDEmergency2021
— Sumi Dutta (@SumiSukanya) April 26, 2021

Authorities also stressed on immediate isolation of anyone who has symptoms related to Covid, in order to break the chain of transmission.

“Do not wait for the reports to come. Isolate. There is a chance that RT-PCR tests can be negative, as it is not 100% sensitive, said Randeep Guleria, Director, AIIMS, Delhi and also a member of the task force. 

“Just presume that the patient is Covid positive if there are symptoms,” he added.

Lav Agarwal, joint secretary in the Health Ministry also highlighted the risk factors associated with non-wearing a mask.

Referring to studies, he said that there is a 90% risk of infection associated with two individuals not wearing a mask and not maintaining adequate social distancing. The risk gets reduced to 30% if the unaffected person is wearing a mask, he said.

The government’s guidance on masking up even at home comes at a time when India is battling a major surge in Covid cases and the number of active cases has reached over 28 lakh, putting unprecedented stress on healthcare infrastructure in most states.

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Research has shown that if no physical distancing measures are followed, one person can infect 406 people in 30 days, it said, adding that if physical exposure is reduced by 50 per cent then one person can infect around 15 people during the period.

And, if physical exposure is reduced by 75 per cent, then one person can infect around 2.5 people in 30 days.

It’s time people start wearing masks inside their homes as well, the government said.

No health infrastructure in the world can support all #COVID19 patients in hospitals: Dr Randeep Guleria, Dir @aiims_nd #OxygenShortage #COVIDEmergency2021 @NewIndianXpress
— Sumi Dutta (@SumiSukanya) April 26, 2021

On the vaccination drive, Agarwal said of the 14.19 crore vaccine doses administered in India so far, 9.79 crore people aged 45 and above have got the first dose and 1.03 crore in the age bracket have received the second dose.

India’s daily COVID-19 infection tally and death toll have touch new peaks in the past few days.

The country recorded 3,52,991 cases, the highest so far, taking the tally of cases to 1,73,13,163 while active cases have crossed the 28-lakh mark, according to the Union Health Ministry data updated on Monday.

The death toll increased to 1,95,123 with a record 2,812 new fatalities, the data updated at 8 am showed.