The World Health Organisation on Thursday said more evidence would be needed to ascertain if SARS-CoV-2, popularly known as COVID-19, could spread through the air.
WHO stated this in a scientific brief on: “Transmission of SARS-CoV-2: implications for infection prevention precautions,” posted on its website.
The UN health agency acknowledged that some outbreak reports related to indoor crowded spaces had suggested the possibility of aerosol transmission such as during choir practice, in restaurants or in fitness classes.
It said more research would be urgently needed to investigate such instances and assess their significance for transmission of COVID-19.
According to WHO, the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads between people through direct or indirect contact.
It said: “It spread between people direct or indirectly with contaminated surfaces or close contact with infected people who spread the virus through saliva, respiratory secretions or droplets released when an infected person coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings.”
In addition, the agency acknowledged that airborne transmission of COVID-19 could occur during specific medical procedures that generate aerosols, such as when performing intubation.
WHO had on Tuesday received an open letter from scientists, who specialise in the spread of disease in the air – so-called aerobiologists.
The scientists urged the global body to update its guidance on how the respiratory disease spreads to include aerosol transmission.
WHO has been studying the various potential modes of coronavirus transmission, including airborne or aerosol droplets, and other channels such as from mother-to-child and from animal-to-human.