Infectious Diseases Now | 2021

How to address SARS-CoV-2 airborne transmission to ensure effective protection of healthcare workers? A review of the literature



\n SARS-CoV-2 mainly infects the respiratory tract, and presents significantly higher active replication in the upper airways. To remain viable and infectious, the SARS-CoV-2 virion must be complete and integral, which is not easily demonstrated in the environment by positive reverse transcriptase PCR results. Real-life conditions in healthcare settings may be conducive to SARS-CoV-2 RNA dissemination in the environment but without evidence of its viability and infectiveness in air. Theoretically, SARS-CoV-2 shedding and dissemination nonetheless appears to be air-mediated, and a distinction between “air” and “droplet” transmission is too schematic to reflect the reality of the respiratory particles emitted by patients, between which a continuum exists. Airborne transmission is influenced by numerous environmental conditions that are not transposable between different viral agents and situations in healthcare settings or in the community. Even though international guidelines on “droplet” versus “air” precautions and personal protective equipment (surgical versus respirator masks) are under discussion, the existing literature underscores the effectiveness of “droplet” precautions as a means of protecting healthcare workers. Differentiation in guidelines between healthcare venues, community settings and, more generally, confined environments is of paramount importance, especially insofar as it underlines the abiding pandemic-related need for systematic mask wearing by the general population.\n

Volume 51
Pages 410 - 417
DOI 10.1016/j.idnow.2021.05.005
Language English
Journal Infectious Diseases Now

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