Different levels of relative humidity can affect the ability of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes COVID-19 to spread, revealed the leading epidemiologist of the World Health Organization (WHO) this Monday.
María Van Kerkhove expressed that low humidity favors the survival of the virus on surfaces, but that very high humidity could also favor the circulation of respiratory droplets, allowing them to remain suspended in the air.
“We have been working with the Global Heat Health information Network, which is made up of a combination of researchers from the WHO, the World Meteorological Organization and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration of the United States. We have established some guidelines for the ideal temperature in closed spaces and with an ideal relative humidity of 50-60%”Reported the technical leader of the response to COVID-19, answering questions from journalists during the Organization’s bi-weekly conference.
Van Kerkhove added that a number of factors that can reduce indoor and outdoor transmission are currently being studied and discussed across the network.
“We know that there are situations where transmission can be amplified, so we talk a lot about avoiding closed, indoor and poorly ventilated spaces, and we also talk a lot about making sure improve ventilation as one of the measures that can be implemented to help reduce the transmission of this virus ”, he highlighted.
The WHO defines ventilation as the intentional introduction of fresh air into a space to maintain air quality.
The Organization recommends a higher rate of ventilation by natural or mechanical means, preferably without air recirculation for schools and workplaces.
In case air recirculation is necessary, WHO recommends cleaning filters regularly, especially in jobs that put a person in a medium or high risk of exposure to COVID-19, as is the case for frontline workers in retail, tourist accommodation and domestic workers.
IMF / Jeff Moore
Cases continue to increase
The WHO also reported that cases continue to increase in countries in Europe and North America.
“This is another critical moment for action, another crucial moment for leaders to step forward, and another key moment for people to come together with a common purpose,” said the director of the Organization.
Tedros Adhanom Gebreyesus, who is in quarantine after being identified as a contact for a person infected with COVID-19, reiterated that we all have a role to play in suppressing transmission and that several countries have shown that it is possible.
“We have posted videos with various countries that demonstrate their comprehensive responses to COVID-19. These include New Zealand, Rwanda, Thailand, the Republic of Korea, Italy and Spain. And today, a new video was released highlighting Mongolia’s success in responding to COVID-19. Mongolia has so far had no deaths or local transmission, ”he said.
Tedros warned that, in some countries, cases are increasing exponentially and hospitals are reaching capacity, posing a risk to both patients and healthcare workers.
Referring to his current quarantine, the expert revealed that he is without symptoms and that he follows the WHO protocols.
“At this time, it is critically important that we all comply with the health guidelines. In this way we break the chains of transmission, suppress the virus and protect health systems, ”said Dr. Tedros, who participated in the press conference from his home.
The protocol does not require the director to take a test if he does not develop symptoms, so it is something that will be decided in the coming days, the WHO experts reported.
The Organization has detailed that most of the infections among its staff have occurred in the community, outside the headquarters in Geneva, where strict hygiene and safety measures are followed.