Researchers have uncovered genetic markers of SARS-CoV-2 within air droplets, the New York Times reports.
A team of researchers in China analyzed viral RNA levels within air samples they collected at hospitals and public places in Wuhan, China, during the February and March outbreak there. As they report in Nature this week, researchers led by Wuhan University's Ke Lan detected low levels of SARS-CoV-2 RNA within samples from isolation wards or patient rooms, but found higher viral RNA within samples from toilet areas. The isolation wards and patient rooms, they note, were well ventilated, while the bathrooms were not, suggesting that room ventilation, size, and sanitization can affect viral RNA levels. They also could detect some viral RNA in crowded areas they sampled.
The researchers note they did not establish whether the virus they detected was infectious.
In any event, Virginia Tech's Linsey Marr adds at the Times that the findings underscore the need to avoid small confined spaces as well as crowds.