'Coronavirus is airborne', scientists write in letter to WHO
In an open letter to the WHO, as man as 239 scientists representing 32 countries have outlined the evidence showing that smaller particles can infect people, and are calling for the agency to revise its recommendations
The WHO has held that COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is transmitted mostly by large respiratory droplets that fall to floor after being discharged via a sneeze or cough. The agency has said the virus is primarily spread through person-to-person contact and indirect contact with surfaces in the immediate environment of an infected individual.
A segment of the scientific community says evidence shows that the virus is borne through the air and can infect individuals upon being inhaled, the Times reported, noting that small particles can travel quickly following a sneeze. Exhaled droplets of the virus can travel more gradually the length of a room, some scientists say.
Airborne transmission would reportedly become a significant factor for response efforts. Masks would possibly be necessary in all indoor settings, regardless of whether social distancing was maintained. Health care workers would also likely require N95 masks that can filter out minuscule coronavirus particles.
However, Benedetta Allegranzi, technical lead on infection control for the WHO, told the Times that there is still a lack of solid evidence on airborne transmission.
The WHO reported more than 200,000 cases of the virus on Saturday, marking a new high in infections over a 24-hour period.
As of Monday, health officials had reported 11,563,642 cases of COVID-19 and 536,880 deaths stemming from it worldwide.