COVID-19 can spread through air: WHO
Published: 11:43 AM, 8 July 2020
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Tuesday acknowledged there is emerging evidence that the coronavirus (COVID-19) can be spread by tiny particles suspended in the air.
The WHO was contacted in April by a group of than 200 scientists who have called for the world body and others to acknowledge that the coronavirus can spread in the air, said WHO technical committee head Dr Maria Van Kerkhove at the United Nations agency’s regular briefing in Geneva on Tuesday.
Kerkhove said her committee is working with the group and are producing a scientific brief to summarize what they know about the nature of airborne transmission of virus.
Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO's technical lead for infection prevention and control, said that evidence emerging of airborne transmission of the coronavirus in "crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out".
If the evidence is confirmed, it may affect guidelines for indoor spaces.
An open letter from more than 200 scientists had accused the WHO of underestimating the possibility of airborne transmission. The WHO has so far said that the virus is transmitted through droplets when people cough or sneeze.
"We wanted them to acknowledge the evidence," Jose Jimenez, a chemist at the University of Colorado who signed the paper, told the Reuters news agency.
"This is definitely not an attack on the WHO. It's a scientific debate, but we felt we needed to go public because they were refusing to hear the evidence after many conversations with them," he said.