A renowned virologist has said he likely contracted the coronavirus through his eyes. Dr. Joseph Fair, also an epidemiologist, was hospitalized on Wednesday (May 13).

Fair took to his Twitter account to announce his illness, saying he wasn’t “out of the woods yet.” He said he fell ill despite using “max precautions.”

The 42-year-old scientist, who has dealt with multiple outbreaks around the world, exhibited COVID-19 symptoms three days after he took a flight to his home in New Orleans, NBC News reported.

"I had a mask on, I had gloves on, I did my normal wipes routine ... but obviously, you can still get it through your eyes," NBC News quoted him as saying from his hospital bed. He said that he was not wearing goggles.

He said we run a risk of contracting the virus through the eyes because we tend to neglect protecting them. "That's one of the three known routes of getting this infection that we just don't pay a lot of attention to. We tend to pay attention to the nose and mouth, because that is the most common route," he was cited by NBC News as saying. "But you know, droplets landing on your eyes are just as infectious."

Fair further added that the airline had them “packed in like sardines," and that he "should have gotten off."

Fair suspected he contracted the virus through his eyes based on a few facts such him protecting the eyes and nose during the flight and not leaving his home ever since his arrival. It's the best guess I could give."

Fair initially had just flu-like symptoms that spiraled to a breathing disorder shortly after. Fair, who didn’t visit a hospital in an effort not to overwhelm the system, was compelled to seek medical attention later. He was given oxygen in the facility and soon started responding to oxygen and medications. He was listed out of danger on Wednesday night.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the coronavirus primarily travels through the respiratory droplets of an infected person when he coughs or sneezes. "These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs," the organization said, emphasizing that "the virus does not spread easily in other ways."

"It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes." CDC said. "This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus."

Earlier this month, a new study indicated that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as the novel coronavirus is named, can be transmitted through the eyes after conjunctival signs were observed in a few COVID-19 patients. The findings of the study emphasized that the otherwise protected healthcare workers were at a high risk of contracting the virus through the eyes as researchers said “infection of ocular surface cells could lead to the eye as being an important carrier.”

Human eyes
Deepfake videos could be detected by observing eye movements. Pictured, a woman looking at the Facebook website on a computer. REUTERS/Michael Dalder