The World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday evening changed its definition for the deadly coronavirus infection and recognized it as an ‘airborne’ disease.
“We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of COVID-19,” Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on COVID-19 pandemic at the WHO, announced during a press briefing.
Acknowledging the possibilities, the Health bodies said that they will soon publish the scientific brief on how the coronavirus disease could possibly spread in the air.
The WHO had previously denied scientific theories that the coronavirus disease could be airborne and maintained that it spreads primarily from person to person through small particles from the nose and mouth.
However, after a team of 239 scientists and researchers from 32 countries submitted an evidence-based open letter outlining that the smaller particles of the virus circulating in the air can infect people further.
The researchers had told the WHO that the airborne transmission plays a significant factor in the pandemic situation where most people are locked inside their homes. In such a situation, the NYT report stated, masks may be as important inside a person’s house as outside, even in socially-distant settings.
As a result, it may also be necessary for doctors to wear N95 masks that filter out smaller respiratory droplets. Meanwhile, ventilation systems in schools, offices, residences, and other public places may have to be thought out again to minimize recirculating the potentially virus-infected air.
The scientists had given the global health regulator a week’s time to publish their letter and revise the definition.