Coronavirus: WHO acknowledges possibility of indoor airborne spread

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Two World Health Organization experts will spend the next two days in the Chinese capital to lay the groundwork for a larger mission to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the World Health Assembly in May more than 120 nations called for an investigation into the origins of the virus.

In a change to its previous thinking, World Health Organization noted on Thursday that studies evaluating COVID-19 outbreaks in restaurants, choir practices and fitness classes suggested the virus might have been spread in the air.

WHO Director-General Tedros Ghebreyesus has warned coronavirus is accelerating out of control globally. Still, it maintained that further studies on airborne transmission are needed, and said the evidence is strongest for respiratory droplet transmission. Numerous scientists who signed the letter on airborne transmission celebrated her comments.

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The WHO has long maintained that COVID-19 is spread via larger respiratory droplets, most often when people cough or sneeze.

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. "This virus case actually tends to spread through droplets, tiny droplets that can sustain longer in a room", said Yurianto on a live broadcast of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) on Friday, July 10.

But mounting evidence on airborne transmission may likely change how public health officials and other leaders respond to rising case numbers and go forward with reopening plans.

Global coronavirus cases exceeded 12 million on Wednesday, according to a Reuters tally, marking another milestone in the spread of the disease that has killed more than 555,000 people in seven months. Victoria state recorded 216 new cases of the virus that causes COVID-19 in the 24 hours to Saturday morning, down from a record 288 cases the previous day but still one of the biggest daily increases of any part of the country since the pandemic arrived.

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"Detailed investigations of these clusters suggest that droplet and fomite [surface] transmission could also explain human-to-human transmission within these clusters", the agency said, stressing that bad hand hygiene, a lack of adequate social distancing, and forgoing face masks could also all play a role in the spread.

Airborne transmission can be problematic in restaurants and bars, for example, where people are often maskless and thus more vulnerable.

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