New guidelines by WHO considers airborne transmission of COVID-19  

New guidelines by WHO considers airborne transmission of COVID-19  

According to the latest guidelines issued by World Health Organization, there is a possibility for airborne transmission of SARS-Co-V-2 leading to CoViD-19. This declaration from WHO was a long-awaited one, as a study report published in the Lancet journal was already in news captions, even a week before. People were worried because there was confusion whether it will be safe to open windows while remaining in indoor settings.

The virus can spread in poorly ventilated and/or crowded indoor settings, where people tend to spend longer periods of time. This is because aerosols remain suspended in the air or travel farther than 1 metre (long-range), the latest scientific brief by WHO says. This update arrives on the heels of the Lancet-paper which states that there is strong evidence to indicate that the primary mode of transmission of SARS-Co-V-2 is through air.

The present declaration has finally settled the debate over how SARS-Co-V-2 spreads and persists in air. The latest briefing by WHO adds that according to the current evidences, the virus spreads mainly between people who are in close contact with each other, typically within 1 metre (short-range). A person can be infected when droplets containing the virus are inhaled or come in direct contact with the eyes, nose, or mouth.

According to some media sources, there had been a push upon WHO right from July 2020, when a group of experts on healthcare and research experts who were demanding for the revision of WHO’s guidelines, considering CoViD-19 as an airborne disease. However, WHO was reluctant to revise its guidelines saying that the possibility of airborne transmission of SARS-Co-V-2 is not conclusive. There was also a research report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology which showed that the widely-touted six-foot social distancing rule is no longer valid.

The possibility of the virus travelling longer distances has significant implications as far as preventative measures are concerned. Earlier, it was believed that droplets containing SARS-Co-V-2 could only travel short distances, less than a metre, before settling down due to the effect of gravity. This means that even if a CoViD-infected person is isolated in a specific room within the house, all members of the house are expected wear masks. And windows must be kept open while in indoor settings.