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How COVID-19 Spreads

COVID-19 transmission

Public Health experts are quite confident that Coronavirus Disease is spread through droplet transmission, which is consistent with all other coronaviruses. This type of transmission from person to person occurs when infected people cough or sneeze and produce droplets. There is no reported evidence of airborne transmission.

Contagious period

If you are infected with COVID-19 the period of time before symptoms develop can be from one to 10 days. We call that the incubation period. The average is about five days. There is evidence that coronavirus may be spread before people realize they have symptoms. Wearing a mask in public may help protect others, especially in situations where physical distancing is difficult to maintain. 

Airborne vs droplet transmission

Droplet contact: Some diseases can be transferred by infected droplets contacting surfaces of the eye, nose, or mouth. For example, large droplets that may be visible to the naked eye are generated when a person sneezes or coughs. These droplets typically spread only one to two metres and quickly fall to the ground. Influenza and SARS are two examples of diseases capable of being transmitted from droplet contact. Currently, health experts believe that coronavirus can also be transmitted in this way.

Airborne transmission: This occurs when much smaller evaporated droplets or dust particles containing the microorganism float in the air for long periods of time. Transmission occurs when others breathe the microorganism into their throat or lungs.  Currently, health experts believe that coronavirus cannot be transmitted through airborne transmission. 

Source: BCCDC

This page last updated May 29, 2020 4:06pm PDT