The World Health Organization says it still needs to gather and interpret evidence that the transmission of the coronavirus could be airborne. The WHO acknowledged the evidence but added it was not definitive. Now, this new revelation means prevention strategy will have to change. Courtesy #DStv403
NEW YORK - The WHO pointed to "emerging evidence" that the coronavirus might spread by air further than previously thought, and warned the pandemic was still accelerating.
The World Health Organization said it would put out a new scientific brief within days after an international group of scientists concluded the virus could travel far beyond two metres.
The two-metre physical distancing guideline has been a major element in the fight against COVID-19, which has killed more than 538,000 people and infected over 11.6 million since it emerged in China last December.
On Monday, a group of 239 international scientists said exhaled droplets under five micrometres in size that contain the virus can become suspended in the air for several hours and travel up to tens of metres.
Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO's technical lead on infection control, told a virtual press conference: "We acknowledge that there is emerging evidence in this field.
"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," she said.
Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's COVID-19 technical lead, said the UN health agency was producing a scientific notice consolidating growing knowledge around transmission.
"We will be issuing our brief in the coming days, and that will outline everything that we have in this area," she said.
Professor Alex van den Heever from the Wits School of Governance said there is a significant amount of circumstantial evidence supporting the theory.
Van den Heever said there is enough evidence to motivate people to be cautious.
"We still have inadequate protections around bulk transport, around spaces of employment, stores etc. so any place where you have poor ventilation and people are indoors, even if they are wearing some form of PPE, they're going to be at risk of infection," he said.
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