Canada renews Coronavirus guidelines on the risk of airborne spread

People wait in line at the Women's College coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing facility in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Amid a continuing second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Canada has revised its guidelines on how the virus spreads to add airborne transmission risk.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) updated its guidance without notice this week, mentioning the risk of transmission from aerosols — or microscopic airborne particles — for the first time, CBC News reported on Thursday.

“SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, spreads from an infected person to others through respiratory droplets and aerosols created when an infected person coughs, sneezes, sings, shouts, or talks,” the updated guidance said.

“The droplets vary in size from large droplets that fall to the ground rapidly (within seconds or minutes) near the infected person to smaller droplets, sometimes called aerosols, which linger in the air under some circumstances.”

The federal agency’s guidelines previously said the virus spreads only through breathing in respiratory droplets, touching contaminated surfaces, and standard greetings like handshakes and hugs.

The updated guidelines came as the country’s Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam urged Canadians to use three-layer masks to slow the coronavirus’s spread.

“This is why we have been advising Canadians to try to avoid the three Cs – closed spaces with (poor) ventilation, crowded places with large numbers of people gathered and close contact situations where you can’t maintain physical distancing,” Theresa said at a press conference on Thursday.

Canada has so far reported a total of 250,913 Covid-19 cases and 10,381 deaths.

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