The World Health Organization has finally acknowledged the “emerging evidence” of airborne transmission of the novel coronavirus than previously thought and warned everyone that the pandemic was still accelerating. It added that it would further study fresh evidence of the same and it happened after an international group of scientists concluded the virus could travel far beyond two metres (yards).
Well, let’s not forget, the two-metre (yard) physical distancing guideline has been a major factor in the battle against COVID-19, which has so far taken more than 5 lakh lives and has infected over 11.6 million since its outbreak in China last December. However, the recent claims by a group of 239 international scientists have turned the tables for WHO as well. As per them, when an infected person exhales, they expel droplets. And the droplets under five micrometres in size can become suspended in the air for several hours and guess what? They can travel up to tens of metres.
Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead on infection control, in a virtual press conference finally said, “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, further added that WHO is producing a scientific brief consolidating the growing knowledge around transmission. “It is important that what we know fits into the guidance that we have. We will be issuing our brief in the coming days, and that will outline everything that we have in this area,” she said.
Meanwhile, WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, reiterated that the pandemic was showing no signs of slowing down. “The outbreak is accelerating and we’ve clearly not reached the peak of the pandemic,” Tedros said, adding, “While the number of deaths appears to have levelled off globally, in reality, some countries have made significant progress in reducing the number of deaths, while in other countries deaths are still on the rise.”
While the airborne spread is only a possibility, it makes it more vital than ever before to wear masks. Amid all this, our primary question still remains the same – NOW WHAT?