Scientists urge WHO to recognise COVID-19 as airborne

200-plus scientists say we need indoor air sanitation and ventilation measures to protect ourselves against SARS-Cov-2.
COVID-19 is airborne

Recently more than 200 scientists from 32 different countries took the extraordinary step of publishing an open letter urging the World Health Organisation to acknowledge the airborne nature of COVID-19 and incorporate this into its guidance on how to avoid infection.

The WHO responded to the letter by acknowledging “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of the novel coronavirus. Since then, the European Centre for Disease Prevention (ECDP) has come out in support of evidence that the virus is spread by aerosol, and is assessing risks posed by ventilation systems and other settings at workplaces.

Additional safety measures required

An aerosol-transmitted COVID-19 has significant ramifications for the way we protect ourselves against infection, particularly indoors and in crowded spaces. The measures recommended by the scientists in the medical journal to mitigate the risk of airborne viral infection included:

  • Improving ventilation by supplying clean outdoor air and minimizing recirculating air in public buildings, office spaces, schools, and elderly care homes in particular.
  • Avoiding overcrowding, particularly in public transport and public buildings.
  • Introducing airborne infection controls “such as local exhaust, high-efficiency air filtration, and germicidal ultraviolet lights.”

Protecting against COVID-19

Increasing evidence that COVID-19 is airborne gives additional support for installing efficient air decontamination solutions in all shared indoor and public spaces. Even beyond the pandemic, our greater awareness of bioaerosol transmission encourages the installation of clean air technology as a matter of course, preventing cross-infection and promoting clean air in our work and living spaces.

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