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AFP
July 8, 2020

WHO studying evidence on airborne virus transmission

World

AFP
July 8, 2020

GENEVA: The WHO said Tuesday it would study fresh evidence on airborne transmission of the coronavirus, after an international group of scientists concluded it could spread far beyond two metres.

The World Health Organization said it would put out a new scientific brief within days, rounding up the knowledge about how the virus can be transmitted and ensuring its guidance stays in line with the evidence.

The two-metre (yard) physical distancing guideline has been a major factor in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed more than 538,000 people and infected over 11.6 million since the outbreak emerged in China last December. However, the new coronavirus can spread through the air far beyond two metres, an group of 239 international scientists said Monday. When an infected person exhales, they expel droplets. Droplets under five micrometres in size can become suspended in the air for several hours and travel up to tens of metres, they said. 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. “And therefore 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 brief consolidating the growing knowledge around transmission.