The World Health Organisation on Thursday admitted that the novel coronavirus has the potential to spread via air but at the same time stated that more research was required regarding the matter. On Thursday, the WHO released new guidelines after receiving an open letter written by over 200 scientists urging the Geneva-based body to update its guidelines to include aerosol transmission. It acknowledged that the virus has the likelihood of spreading at indoor crowded spaces like restaurants, gyms, through aerosol transmission.
Notably, WHO had earlier confidently claimed that the coronavirus does not spread airborne, although it had admitted on several counts that there has been a reported possibility of aerosol transmission in a relatively closed environment with prolonged exposure like ICUs-CCUs in hospitals, however more tepid data analysis is needed to understand this. “Based on the information received so far and on our experience with other coronaviruses, COVID-19 appears to mostly spread through respiratory droplets (for instance when a sick person coughs) and close contact. This is why the WHO recommends hands and respiratory hygiene,” Dr. Poonam Khetarpal Singh, Regional Director of WHO Southeast Asia, had said earlier.
However, on Tuesday, a group of 239 scientists in 32 countries had penned an open letter to the Geneva-based agency, outlining evidence that they say shos floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in. The letter was published on Monday in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal. In the letter, the scientists had also urged WHO to update its guidance on how the respiratory disease passes between people, in light of the newly emerging evidence. Following this, WHO acknowledged the fact and said, at a press conference, that they must be “open to this evidence.”