More than 200 scientists have called for the World Health Organization and others to acknowledge that the coronavirus can spread in the air—a change that could alter some of the current measures being taken to stop the pandemic.
In a choir practice and unpublished research about a poorly ventilated restaurant in Guangzhou, China, each of which raised the possibility of infections from airborne droplets.
“We are concerned that the lack of recognition of the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 and the lack of clear recommendations on the control measures against the airborne virus will have significant consequences,” the scientists wrote. “People may think they are fully protected by adhering to the current recommendations but in fact, additional airborne interventions are needed.”
Scientists around the world have been working furiously to understand the new virus. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it is thought to mainly jump from person to person through close contact, but adds: “We are still learning about how the virus spreads.”
Martin McKee, a professor of European Public Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine who was not linked to the letter, said the scientists’ arguments sounded “entirely reasonable.”
“Part of the problem is that everybody at WHO was moving with the paradigm of influenza, even though we know there are lots of differences between influenza and coronaviruses,” he said.
McKee noted that with Britain’s recent reopening of its pubs, restaurants and salons, the possibility of airborne coronavirus transmission might mean stricter interventions are needed indoors, including more mask-wearing and continued physical distancing.
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