Published: Fri, July 10, 2020

WHO Verifies "Emerging Evidence" Of Airborne Coronavirus Transmission

WHO Verifies

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on world health stretch far beyond "the suffering caused by the virus itself", World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during an address to member states in Geneva on Thursday. This came days after more than 200 scientists had urged the agency to revisit the research and revise its position.

The WHO has consistently held that the coronavirus infection spreads through droplets when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks, or for certain risky medical procedures, such as when patients are first put on breathing machines.

Still, officials also pointed out that other modes of transmission - like contaminated surfaces or close contacts between people in such indoor environments - might also have explained the disease's spread. The virus is primarily transmitted between people via respiratory droplets and contact routes, the agency maintained. World Health Organization said in its latest description that the virus transmission by aerosols may have been responsible for outbreaks of COVID-19 reported in "Some closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people maybe shouting, talking or singing". "If airborne transmission is a significant factor in the pandemic, especially in crowded spaces with poor ventilation, the consequences for containment will be significant".

While the theory that COVID-19 is spread via airborne particles remains in question, Obaidat advised people to wear face masks and follow health instructions to remain safe, and to observe physical distancing.

Based on its review of the current evidence, the World Health Organization said the novel coronavirus that causes Covid-19 spreads between people through direct or indirect contact with contaminated surfaces or close contact with infected people who spread the virus through saliva, respiratory secretions or droplets released when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings.


Donald Milton, a University of Maryland aerosol expert, said "peer-reviewed scientific publications clearly demonstrate that particles even as large as 30 microns can move on air currents and travel more than 10 meters indoors".

Benedetta Allegranzi, head of the WHO's infection prevention and control committee said on Tuesday, July 7 that the possibility of airborne spread in closed, crowded, poorly ventilated settings could not be ruled out. "To be able to see if we can mitigate against that", he said.

"We recognize that there is emerging evidence in this field, as in all other fields regarding the Covid-19 virus and the pandemic, and therefore we believe that we need to be open to this evidence and understand its implications in as for the modes of transmission, and also as to the precautions to be taken, "Alleganzi said".

An animal health expert and an epidemiologist will meet Chinese counterparts in Beijing on Saturday and Sunday to fix the "scope and terms of reference" for a WHO-led worldwide mission aimed at learning how the virus jumped from animals to humans, an agency statement said.

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