Hundreds of scientists say the World Health Organization should revise its recommendations for the coronavirus due to evidence that smaller particles of the virus can travel through the air and infect people, The New York Times reported on Sunday.
The group, numbering 239 scientists from 32 nations, is expected to publish its recommendation and evidence of its theory in an open letter this coming week.
The WHO has held that COVID-19 is mainly transmitted by large respiratory droplets that drop to the floor after a sneeze or cough and that the virus is largely spread by person-to-person contact and indirect contact with infected surfaces.
The major significance of the claim of the group of scientists – that the virus is borne through the air, including the length of a room, and can infect people upon being inhaled – is that masks would possibly be needed indoors, even if social distancing was being followed, and health care workers would need to use N95 masks that can filter out minuscule coronavirus particles.
But a WHO official told the Times that this theory is not supported by the facts.
Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi, the organization’s technical lead on infection control, said that “especially in the last couple of months, we have been stating several times that we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence. There is a strong debate on this.”
The Hill pointed out that this debate comes as many parts of the world are suffering from a surge in coronavirus cases and related hospitalizations.
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