Geneva: The World Health Organization (WHO) has acknowledged there is emerging evidence that the Novel coronavirus can be spread by tiny particles suspended in the air.
The airborne transmission could not be ruled out in crowded, closed or poorly ventilated settings, an official said, the BBC reported.
If the evidence is confirmed, it may affect guidelines for indoor spaces.
An open letter from more than 200 scientists had accused the WHO of underestimating the possibility of airborne transmission.
The WHO has so far said that the virus is transmitted through droplets when people cough or sneeze.
WHO officials have cautioned the evidence is preliminary and requires further assessment.
Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said that evidence emerging of airborne transmission of the coronavirus in “crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out”.
For months, the WHO has insisted that Covid-19 is transmitted via droplets emitted when people cough or sneeze. Droplets that do not linger in the air, but fall onto surfaces – that’s why handwashing has been identified as a key prevention measure.
But 239 scientists from 32 countries don’t agree: they say there is strong evidence to suggest the virus can also spread in the air: through much tinier particles that float around for hours after people talk, or breathe out.
The WHO has now admitted there was evidence to suggest this was possible in specific settings, such as enclosed and crowded spaces.