WHO acknowledges “emerging evidence” of airborne spread of COVID-19

July 08, 2020: The World Health Organization on Tuesday acknowledged “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of the novel coronavirus, after a group of scientists urged the global body to update it

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July 08, 2020: The World Health Organization on Tuesday acknowledged “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of the novel coronavirus, after a group of scientists urged the global body to update its guidance on how the respiratory disease passes between people. 

“The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings - especially in very specific conditions, crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out," Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO's technical lead for infection prevention and control, said at a virtual press conference.

"However, the evidence needs to be gathered and interpreted, and we continue to support this," the official said.

So far, the disease was considered to have transmitted through droplets that were transmitted through contact with nose, eyes and mouth.

Any change in the WHO’s assessment of risk of transmission could affect its current advice on keeping 1-metre (3.3 feet) of physical distancing. Governments, which rely on the agency for guidance policy, may also have to adjust public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

It may be stated that on Monday, an open letter to the medical community by 239 scientists published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, urged the medical community, as well as national and international bodies to recognize the potential for airborne spread of covid-19. 

The letter showed evidence that micro droplets and virus particles released by infected patients, during exhalation, talking, and coughing are small enough to remain in the air and pose a risk of exposure at up to 2 metres distance.

“There is significant potential for inhalation exposure to viruses in microscopic respiratory droplets (microdroplets) at short to medium distances (up to several meters, or room scale), and we are advocating for the use of preventive measures to mitigate this route of airborne transmission," the open letter said.

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