The coronavirus pandemic broke out a little over six months ago, and it seems like we're still nowhere close to figuring out the virus. With continuous ongoing research, we're learning something new about COVID-19 every day. Earlier it was believed that masks didn't do much to curb the spread, now face masks have been made mandatory in several countries. Runny nose was listed as one of the earliest symptoms, now fever, cough and difficulty in breathing are the main markers of infection.
Similarly, the WHO has stated since the beginning that the virus is spread via droplets released when coughing or sneezing, and it is not airborne. However, scientists across the world are now alerting the WHO to new research--and all evidence that points towards the virus being airborne. According to a report in the New York Times (NYT), hundreds of scientists are saying that there is evidence that the novel coronavirus in smaller particles in the air can infect people and are calling for the World Health Organization (WHO) to revise recommendations.
If this isn't going to make you want to stay home, we don't know what will.
The NYT also wrote that in a letter to the WHO, which the researchers plan to publish in a scientific journal next week, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined the evidence showing smaller particles can infect people.
However, the WHO is yet to make an official statement about these claims.
The scientists and doctors told NYT that whether carried by large droplets that zoom through the air after a sneeze, or by much smaller exhaled droplets that may glide the length of a room, the coronavirus is borne through air. This means that the virus can infect people when that air is inhaled, they said.
So far, the WHO has stated that evidence for the virus being airborne was not convincing. Dr Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO's technical lead of infection prevention and control, told NYT, "Especially in the last couple of months, we have been stating several times that we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence."
Whether or not the WHO finds these claims to be true, we must all proceed with caution--more than what we had been undertaking. How can we do that? It all boils down to leaving the house only if you must. Go for grocery runs only once in two weeks, or order veggies online. Ditch the jogging/running for now and workout at home. With nearly 7 lakh cases and over 19,000 deaths, India is now the third worst-hit country in the world. Remember, our best chance of surviving this virus is to avoid catching it in the first place. So stay home and stay safe!