Dr. Chikwe Ihekweazu, Director General of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC), has said COVID-19 may be spreading through the air.

He said this at the press briefing of the COVID-19 Presidentil Task Force on Monday.

He explained that before now the virus was believed to only be transmittable through droplets which emanate from the nose and the mouth and fall to the ground.

“Understanding the modes of transmission of any new virus is very critical for defining response strategies. For COVID-19 from the very beginning, our understanding based on other coronaviruses was spread primarily through droplets.

“Droplets are excretions from the respiratory tracts that can’t stay on in the air. They ultimately fall to the ground after a few minutes. However, as we have studied transmission, studied clusters of these infections, we saw increasing evidence from clusters of infections. Clusters transmissions did not seem to be enough to explain the clusters that we are seeing.

“Diseases that are commonly spread by what we call airborne infection are things like measles and influenza that can be suspended in the air and transmit over longer distances. Over the past few weeks, increasing evidence has emerged that in addition to droplet infections, we cannot rule out that airborne transmission is also possible as a mode of transmission of COVID-19,” he said.

Ihekweazu urged Nigerians to wear face masks and maintain social distancing to keep themselves safe from the virus.