The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, is responsible for the COVID-19 pandemic that has swept the world. It is primarily spread through contact with respiratory fluids from an infected person, but it can also be transmitted through aerosol particles that are spread far away from the infected person. This means that a person can be exposed to the virus by simply being in the same room as an infected person. The virus can also remain in the air after an infected person has left the room, and in some cases, it can stay in the air for hours.
In addition, a person may be exposed to the virus through splashes and aerosols of respiratory fluids directly onto their mucous membranes. Although contact with contaminated surfaces is now considered less likely to cause infection, it is still possible for someone to contract COVID-19 if they touch their eyes, nose, or mouth after touching a surface or object with the virus. Under experimental conditions, researchers have found that the COVID-19 virus can remain viable in the air for up to three hours. This means that people can contract the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects.
When people with COVID-19 infection breathe out, clear their throat, cough, sneeze, talk, or breathe air through their nose or mouth, droplets of all different sizes are expelled into the air. Outdoors, fresh air circulation disperses drifting droplets quickly, so wearing face coverings and maintaining physical distance (6 feet or more) is very effective in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in outdoor spaces where air moves. To reduce your risk of contracting COVID-19 indoors, it is important to ensure good ventilation and to clean and disinfect surfaces regularly.