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Stays in the air for a long time: hundreds of scientists believe that WHO underestimates the infectivity of coronavirus

More than 230 scientists signed an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO) asking them to review its recommendations for combating coronavirus. They claim that, contrary to WHO’s opinion, the virus can stay in the air for a long time, which creates an additional danger for people, writes

Photo: Shutterstock

The letter was signed by 239 scientists from 32 countries. During aerosol transmission, unlike airborne droplets, virus particles are much smaller and stay longer in the air. They are able to cover significantly greater distances than two meters, which are considered a safe distance between people, adds "Channel 5".

The authors of the open letter argue that WHO relied on data on the spread of coronavirus in hospitals, where the conditions are much more sterile than in other enclosed spaces. Therefore, among the main routes of distribution, the World Health Organization calls direct contact with the source of the virus, as well as the airborne droplet, while ignoring the aerosol.

WHO claims that the virus, falling into the air, immediately settles on horizontal surfaces, as it is carried in sufficiently large and heavy drops. Benedetta Allegranzi, WHO Technical Director for the Control of Infections, said that evidence of the spread of the virus through the air is inconclusive.

“Especially in the last couple of months we have repeatedly stated that we consider airborne transmission possible, but not supported by solid or even clear evidence. There is still debate on this subject, ”says Allegranzi.

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If transmission of the virus through the air is an important factor in a pandemic, especially in crowded rooms with poor ventilation, this can significantly affect the containment of the virus. This may mean that masks should be worn indoors even with respect to social distance.

The publication notes that the recent spike in the number of casualties after the resumption of business and office activities confirms what many scientists have been talking about for several months: "the virus stagnates in indoor air, infecting those who are nearby." Indoors, it will be necessary to reduce air circulation and install more powerful filters, as well as use ultraviolet light.

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The WHO website has published basic public precautions that the organization considers necessary to protect against coronavirus. Among them:

  • wash your hands regularly or treat them with an alcohol-based product;
  • keep a distance in public places - the minimum should be 1 meter;
  • if possible, do not touch the eyes, nose and mouth;
  • observe the rules of respiratory hygiene, that is, cover the nose and mouth with a napkin or bend the elbow when coughing, sneezing;
  • seek medical attention if you have a fever, a cough, or difficulty breathing.

There is no recommendation to wear a mask on the list. However, in a separate section on wearing masks, the organization recognizes that this remedy can help limit the spread of viral infections.

At the same time, the WHO notes that the observance of hand hygiene, distance and other measures is of primary importance in preventing the transmission of coronavirus from person to person.

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