While President Donald Trump urged not to be afraid of COVID-19, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reiterated that there is airborne transmission of the virus through droplets produced by speaking, coughing, sneezing, singing and breathing. (Alex Brandon)
“Do not be afraid of COVID, ” said President Donald Trump on Monday as he left Walter Reed Hospital after a brief hospitalization to treat his infection with this virus with an experimental therapy, among other drugs and supplements.
That same day, however, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reiterated the potential airborne transmission of this disease in its new guide on the spread of the virus. Conflicting messages? Risk of more infections arising? Experts on this issue believe that it is and they warn the population that the pandemic of this disease continues, so it is important not to lower your guard.
“The contagion (of COVID-19) through particles that remain floating in the environment had already been warned by a group of 200 scientists around the world,” said yesterday Dr. Eduardo Ibarra , former president of the College of Surgeons of Puerto Rich.
The World Health Organization had already warned months ago of aerosol transmission. On September 18, the CDC published a recommendation with that warning, but three days later they withdrew it. This Monday, however, the CDC updated its guidance on how the virus spreads, highlighting the potential for airborne transmission through respiratory droplets produced by talking, coughing, sneezing, singing or breathing. For the first time, however, the CDC is warning of the ability to spread from person to person from more than six feet away, especially in closed and poorly ventilated spaces. In addition, he recognized that contaminated particles can remain in the air for “minutes or hours.”
“It had already been confirmed that the particles (contaminated with the virus) remain in the environment or atmosphere and can infect others for a long time, from minutes to hours. That is something very significant, ”Ibarra reiterated.
Regarding Trump's expressions of not being afraid of the virus, Ibarra described them as “unfortunate” that collide with previous prevention messages and with the experiences lived by the thousands of people infected or who have died from this virus.
“The pandemic continues and, just as the influenza pandemic of the 18th century lasted three years, if we continue like this it may last two or three more years, until there is herd immunity,” said Ibarra.
The infectologist Miguel Colón agreed by calling Trump's expressions “irresponsible”, in addition to emphasizing that the type of treatment the president received was special and not available to the general population.
“If even in the White House bubble there was community contagion, this shows how dangerous this virus is,” said Colón.
Humberto Guiot, also an infectious disease specialist, stressed that the message to be carried should not be based on panic, but rather on being cautious and acting to prevent infections.
“It has already been seen that certain airborne transmission can remain in the air. The best weapon is prevention, the use of masks, physical distancing, avoiding unnecessary trips, especially to closed places, and frequent hand washing, ”he said.
For Dr. Rosa Pérez Perdomo , former Secretary of Health, it is urgent to strengthen the prevention message, that people understand the danger of this virus if they do not protect themselves adequately. This, he said, is not achieved with written messages or informational brochures, but through partnerships with community leaders, as well as interventions in the communities.