Coronavirus: WHO acknowledges possibility of indoor airborne spread


"The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings - especially in very specific conditions, crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, can not be ruled out", she had said.

"As we continue to tackle the pandemic, we are also looking into the origins of the virus", he said.

The agency said that most spread is via droplets from infected people who cough or sneeze. They point out parallels between this and the agency dragging feet on advising countries on use of masks, despite evidence that it is one of the most effective tools to cut transmission.

What does airborne transmission mean?

"We all want to avoid whole countries going back into total lockdown, that is not a desire that anybody has", said Dr. Michael Ryan, executive director of WHO's Health Emergencies Program, at a press conference Friday, CBS News reported.

"There have been reported outbreaks of COVID-19 reported in some closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing", the World Health Organization said in its updated guidelines.

The group of scientists that comprises more than 200 scientists of the world have said that the WHO so far has downplayed the risk of coronavirus escaping through the air and their goal was to make the WHO acknowledge the threat of this mode of transmission. Numerous scientists who signed the letter on airborne transmission celebrated her comments.

Since the virus was first recorded in December, it has infected more than 12.5 million people and killed at least 560,921 people so far worldwide, per data from Johns Hopkins University. China has insisted that World Health Organization lead the investigation and for it to wait until the pandemic is brought under control.

"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 occurs when someone inhales virus-containing aerosols, or small floating particles, that can linger in the air for some amount of time.

Airborne transmission can be problematic in restaurants and bars, for example, where people are often maskless and thus more vulnerable. "To be able to see if we can mitigate against that".

The first COVID-19 patient in Dharavi was found on April 1, almost three weeks after Mumbai recorded its maiden positive case on March 11.