The World Health Organization (WHO) has admitted that evidences were emerging about airborne transmission of coronavirus. The WHO’s admission came after 239 scientists from 32 countries wrote it an open letter.
Dr Benedetta Alleganzi, WHO Technical Lead for Infection Prevention and Control, said at a media briefing in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday that the agency has discussed and collaborated with many of the scientists who signed the letter.
“We acknowledge that there is emerging evidence in this field, as in all other fields regarding the Covid-19 virus pandemic and therefore we believe that we have to be open to this evidence and understand its implications regarding the modes of transmission and also regarding the precautions that need to be taken,” Alleganzi said.
“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,” she said.
“However, the evidence needs to be gathered and interpreted, and we continue to support this.” Alleganzi emphasised more research is still needed on Covid-19 transmission.
The WHO’s current guidance states that the coronavirus is transmitted primarily between people via these respiratory droplets and contact. Airborne transmission is different from droplet transmission, the WHO states in a scientific brief on its website. The WHO has said this is why it is important to stay at least one meter away from others and wash your hands regularly, or clean with an alcohol-based hand rub.
Any change in the WHO’s assessment of risk of transmission could affect its current advice on keeping one 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.
Earlier, a group of 239 scientists from 32 different countries have published an open letter to the WHO and other health agencies, calling for them to update their information on the coronavirus. The group of scientists argues that the WHO needs to give more weight to the role of the airborne spread of Covid-19.
The claim made by the scientists contradicts previous evidence that suggested that it was transmitted from person to person through droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with the disease coughs, sneezes or speaks.
The scientists’ argue the virus is borne through the air and can infect people when inhaled, whether carried aloft by large droplets after a sneeze or much smaller droplets that could glide the length of the room.
Presently 1.19 crore coronavirus cases have been reported across world. Of them, 5.47 lakh have died.
Thursday, 09 July 2020 | PNS | New Delhi
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