FILE PHOTO (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Update: WHO says reviewing on concerns over airborne spread of Covid-19

Infectious disease experts say that any change in the WHO’s assessment of risk of transmission could affect its current advice on keeping 1-metre (3.3 feet) of physical distancing.

DURBAN – The World Health Organization(WHO) has come out saying it is still reviewing the statements made by 239 scientists which urge the organisation to acknowledge the airborne spread of Covid-19.

The scientists from 32 countries wrote an open letter to the WHO. According to the scientists a study has  demonstrated beyond any reasonable doubt that Covid-19 virus is exhaled in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air and pose a risk of exposure beyond 1 to 2m by an infected person

The WHO has come out saying it is still reviewing the statements made by the scientists. According to the agency SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, spreads primarily through small droplets expelled from the nose and mouth of an infected person that quickly sink to the ground.

“We are aware of the article and are reviewing its contents with our technical experts,” WHO spokesman Tarik Jasarevic.

Infectious disease experts say that any change in the WHO’s assessment of the risk of transmission could affect its current advice on keeping 1-metre (3.3 feet) of physical distancing. Governments, which rely on the agency for guidance policy, may also have to adjust public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

“Dr Michael Osterholm, an infectious disease expert at the University of Minnesota, said the WHO has long been reluctant to acknowledge aerosol transmission of influenza, “in spite of compelling data,” and sees the current controversy as part of that simmering debate.

“I think the frustration level has finally boiled over with regard to the role that airborne transmission plays in diseases like influenza and SARS-CoV-2,” he said.

WHO guidance to health workers, dated June 29, says SARS-CoV-2 is primarily transmitted through respiratory droplets and on surfaces.

“But airborne transmission is possible in some circumstances, such as when performing intubation and aerosol-generating procedures, we advise medical workers performing such procedures to wear heavy-duty N95 respiratory masks and other protective equipment in an adequately ventilated room,” said WHO.

 

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