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While both tuberculosis (TB) and COVID-19 spread by close contact between people the exact mode of transmission differs, explaining some differences in infection control measures to mitigate the two conditions.

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TB bacilli remain suspended in the air in droplet nuclei for several hours after a TB patient coughs, sneezes, shouts, or sings, and people who inhale them can get infected. The size of these droplet nuclei is a key factor determining their infectiousness. Their concentration decreases with ventilation and exposure to direct sunlight.

COVID-19 transmission has primarily been attributed to the direct breathing of droplets expelled by someone with COVID-19 (people may be infectious before clinical features become apparent). Droplets produced by coughing, sneezing, exhaling and speaking may land on objects and surfaces, and contacts can get infected with COVID-19 by touching them and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth . Handwashing, in addition to respiratory precautions, are thus important in the control of COVID-19.

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