NEBRASKA, United States - The killer coronavirus can spread through the air and remain contagious for hours, another study has suggested.
US scientists found high levels of the bug lurking in the air in rooms long after patients had left.
What's more is that traces of the coronavirus were also discovered in hospital corridors outside patients' rooms, where staff had been coming in and out.
The University of Nebraska researchers behind the study say the finding highlights the importance of protective clothing for healthcare workers.
It follows a wealth of studies that have suggested the highly contagious disease does not just spread via droplets in a cough or sneeze.
Scientists around the world are scrambling to understand how the virus, which has now infected 785,282 people and killed almost 38,000, sheds and spreads.
The latest study, which has not been peer-reviewed by other scientists yet or published in a scientific journal, took samples from 11 patients' rooms after they had been placed in isolation following a diagnosis.
The researchers found viral particles in the air both inside the rooms and in the hallways outside of the rooms.
Their finding suggests people may be able to contract the bug without ever being in direct close proximity to an infected person.
The study's authors said this highlights the importance of wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).
Shortages in the UK have meant NHS workers cannot get their hands on PPE, with some staff resorting to buying their own from DIY stores. 
Lead author James Lawler, an infectious diseases expert at the Nebraska University, said in a statement: 'Our team was already taking airborne precautions with the initial patients we cared for.(FA)