In early April of 2020, I wrote a very short article advocating the wearing of face masks, and it was largely based on a paper in Nature indicating that Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, is likely transmitted by aerosol rather than just by droplets or from surfaces. The precautionary approach would assume that this was the case, and have made masks mandatory1,2. However, the authorities did not do so because masks were apparently ‘in short supply’.
Almost three months later, I wrote a piece based on an extensive study which demonstrated that airborne transmission was the dominant mode of spread, and that wearing of face masks was the most effective mitigation measure3,4.
Now, another paper has come out, which again indicates that airborne transmission is a dominant mode of spread. This has shown that viable Sars-Cov-2 can be detected at distances greater than those specified by physical distancing guidelines, and in one study, it has been detected at up to 4.8 metres from Covid-9 patients who are not coughing but simply breathing. It has also suggested that many of the outbreaks from what is laughably called ‘hotel quarantine’ in Australia, can only have been explained by airborne transmission. Indeed, viable virus has been detected at significantly greater distances than 4.8 metres from s source in ventilation systems5. This is part of the reason that hotel quarantine is such a dangerously porous quarantine ‘system’.
Countries which acknowledged the danger of airborne transmission and developed protocols to prevent this mode of transmission have not only been able to control Covid‐19 in the community, but have also been able to largely prevent health care workers from getting infected. Countries which have not, including Australia, the UK, US and many European nations, have not only seen widespread community transmission but staggering numbers of health care worker infections and deaths. In Melbourne, 4170 clinical and non‐clinical health care workers have been infected with SARS‐CoV‐2, and most of those have contracted it in the workplace5.
In spite of this evidence, the infection prevention and control guidelines, including those published as recently as May 2021, continue to specify only droplet and surface transmission. A preprint of this Medical Journal of Australia (MJA) paper was available in April, 2021, but it was only published online on July 5th, 2021. To the authors of this MJA article, it has seemed at times as if any reason, other than airborne transmission, is being sought to explain infections, especially of health care workers5. It does make you wonder why this would be so.
Could it be because the government has a vested interest in keeping hotel quarantine in operation? Why would that be? Could it be because the government has a vested interest in keeping hotel quarantine open, because some of the corporations who own hotels are donors to the Liberal Party? In short, yes, it is. The corporation which owns the Intercontinental Sydney, Mulpha, has donated to the Liberal Party6. Another reason why the federal government, and presumably the state governments, were initially happy to use hotel quarantine was because, for them, it was cheap, as the inmates have to pay for their accommodation. It is only now, after the constant leaks of virus from hotel quarantine, and the constant transmission of the virus within it (as it is transmitted by aerosol!), that the federal government has listed to the state governments and decided to kick the tin and construct quarantine stations in some of the states. As with the AstraZeneca vaccine, nothing is too cheap for Australians.