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The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes that the coronavirus may spread through the air slightly more easily than previously thought. The WHO took the view that the virus mainly spreads through drops from the nose and mouth of an infected person.

According to a group of 239 scientists from 32 countries, the WHO underestimated the chance of spreading through fine moisture droplets that linger in air in confined spaces. They published Monday an open letter in the scientific journal Clinical Infectious Diseases Journal. The letter was mainly signed by physicists and much less by virologists.

“The possibility of airborne transmission, especially in busy, enclosed and poorly ventilated environments, cannot be ruled out,” said WHO chief executive Benedetta Allegranzi, responsible for infection prevention. According to her, there are indeed indications that transfer is possible under those circumstances, but there is no definitive evidence. So more research is needed.


RIVM too says now that the virus can linger in fine moisture droplets in the air of non-ventilated areas. The probability that someone who is inside will come into contact with the virus depends on a number of factors, such as the size of the room and the length of time that someone stays there. It also depends on how many drops a corona patient develops and how many virus particles are in them.

According to the RIVM researchers, the chance of someone coming into contact with the virus is in most cases less than 1 percent. It is also not certain whether it poses a risk of contamination. This requires additional research.


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