The World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged there is emerging evidence that the coronavirus can be spread by tiny particles suspended in the air.
An official said the airborne transmission could not be ruled out in crowded, closed or poorly ventilated settings cautioning however that the evidence is preliminary and requires further assessment.
WHO made the admission after 239 scientists from 32 countries, in an open letter, had accused the United Nations agency of underestimating the possibility of airborne transmission.
Jose Jimenez, a chemist at the University of Colorado who signed the paper, told the Reuters news agency that the purpose of the letter was to make WHO “acknowledge the evidence.” He added:
This is definitely not an attack on the WHO. It’s a scientific debate, but we felt we needed to go public because they were refusing to hear the evidence after many conversations with them.
The UN agency has for four months insisted that Covid-19 is transmitted via droplets emitted when people cough or sneeze.
If the evidence to suggest airborne transmission is possible is confirmed, the advice on how to prevent the virus spreading may have to change and could lead to more widespread use of masks, and more rigorous distancing.
More: BBC News