Coronavirus: Airborne transmission cannot be ruled out -WHO

WHO on airborne transmission of coronavirus: Health workers coronavirus
Emeh Joy

Some scientists before have suggested that transmission of coronavirus can be airborne. The World Health Organization have now acknowledged that there is emerging evidence that COVID-19 can be spread by tiny particles suspended in the air.

An official of the organization said airborne transmission, especially in crowded, closed or poorly ventilated settings, should not be ruled out. If this evidence is confirmed, it means there might change in guidelines for indoor spaces.

An open letter from not less than 200 scientists had claimed that WHO was underestimating the possibility of airborne transmission with the virus.

So far, WHO has only confirmed that the virus is transmitted via droplets when people sneeze or cough. A chemist at the University of Colorado, Jose Jimenez who signed the paper told Reuters news agency, "We wanted them to acknowledge the evidence".

"This is 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".

Another signatory- Prof. Benjamin Cowling of the Hong King University spoke to BBC and said the finding had "important implications".

Cowling said, "In healthcare settings, if aerosol transmission poses a risk, then we understand healthcare workers should really be wearing the best possible protective equipment...

"And actually the World Health Organization said that one of the reasons they were not keen to talk about the aerosol transmission of COVID-19 is because there's not a sufficient number of these kinds of specialized masks for many parts of the world.

"And in the community, if we are thinking about the aerosol transmission being a particular risk, then we need to think about how to prevent larger super spreading events, larger outbreaks and those occur in indoor environments with poor ventilation, with crowding and with prolonged close contact."

Officials of the World Health Organization have, however, cautioned that the evidence is preliminary and would still require further assessment.

The WHO's technical lead for infection prevention and control, Benedetta Allegranzi said that the emerging evidence that points to airborne transmission of the coronavirus in "crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out".

As WHO has admitted today that there was evidence to suggest that airborne transmission is possible in specific settings such as enclosed places, the evidence will have to be thoroughly evaluated.

If confirmed, the guideline on how to prevent the spread of the virus might have to change. The change might be in the form of more stress on distancing especially in settings lie restaurants, bars and public transport as well as more widespread use of masks.

Meanwhile, in other news, it has been reported that the president of the United States, Donald Trump is officially taking steps to pull US out of WHO. The notice of withdrawal, effective July 6, 2021, was forwarded to the United Nations Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres on Monday.

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