WHO acknowledges COVID-19 can be airborne indoors
The update from the World Health Organization comes following pressure from an international group of more than 230 scientists
Staten Island Advance, N.Y.
NEW YORK — The World Health Organization (WHO) for the first time formally acknowledged on Thursday that the coronavirus (COVID-19) can be airborne indoors and could infect people, the New York Times exclusively reported.
The admission comes after a group of 239 scientists in 32 countries signaled their intention to publish an open letter to the WHO contending that droplets carrying the virus could be airborne in areas particularly with inadequate ventilation — urging the agency to revise its recommendations for public safety, the Times previously reported.
While the WHO still says the spread of the virus is primarily through larger droplets that are inhaled or from contact with a contaminated surface, the agency now concedes that transmission of the virus by tiny airborne droplets — known as “aerosols” — may have been responsible for coronavirus outbreaks within indoor settings, the report said.
As a result, the agency recommended avoiding “crowded places, close-contact settings, and confined and enclosed spaces with poor ventilation,” the Times reported, adding that homes and offices should ensure good ventilation.
Additionally, the WHO said outright that the virus can be transmitted by asymptomatic carriers, which has been readily accepted by the scientific community but has been a source of confusion after the agency previously said it was “very rare” for people without symptoms of coronavirus to be contagious — before backtracking that statement and saying it is not the primary way the virus is being transmitted from person to person.
“It is refreshing to see that W.H.O. is now acknowledging that airborne transmission may occur, although it is clear that the evidence must clear a higher bar for this route compared to others,” Linsey Marr, an aerosol expert at Virginia Tech, said in the report.
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