Mayor Bill de Blasio and his public-health team have been holding regular briefings on the coronavirus crisis in New York City, detailing the extent of its transmission, updating the public on the progression of the disease in infected persons and offering guidelines for avoiding infection.
All good work, but there are signs that the city is less prepared for a mass outbreak than officials suggest. De Blasio and Health Commissioner Oxiris Barbot have stressed that though the coronavirus is certainly contagious, the mechanics of transmission are relatively limited.
“The virus can only transmit when bodily fluid, such as through a sneeze, cough or spit, is transferred from a person who has the virus, directly into another person,” de Blasio stated in a news release. “Disease detectives have determined that the virus does not survive for more than two or three minutes in open air.”
The claim that coronavirus dies quickly upon exposure to the atmosphere is striking; it also seems to contradict information elsewhere. The World Health Organization says that the novel coronavirus appears to behave similarly to related viruses and “may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.” A recent article in the Journal of Hospital Infection suggests that, depending on the surface material, it can remain infectious for up to nine days.
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