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NEW DELHI: The World Health Organization (WHO) has long held that the coronavirus is spread primarily by large respiratory droplets that, once expelled by infected people in coughs and sneezes, fall quickly to the floor.
However, many scientists say that the coronavirus is finding new victims worldwide, in bars and restaurants, offices, markets and casinos, giving rise to frightening clusters of infection that increasingly confirm what they have been saying for months: The virus lingers in the air indoors, infecting those nearby.
Is coronavirus airborne?
So far the virus is believed to be transmitted through three ways — large respiratory droplets, direct contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces. Prompting the health organisation to stress on the need for washing hands and following social distancing measures to stop the transmission of the virus.
But in an open letter to the WHO, 239 scientists in 32 countries have outlined the evidence showing that smaller particles can infect people and are calling for the agency to revise its recommendations. They say that there is growing evidence that the virus can spread indoors through aerosols that linger in the air.
Airborne transmission is different from droplet transmission as it refers to the presence of microbes within droplet nuclei, which are generally considered to be particles
The scientists also said that the virus is infectious even in smaller quantities.
What will happen if coronavirus is airborne?
If the airborne transmission is a significant factor in the pandemic, especially in crowded spaces with poor ventilation, the consequences for containment will be significant. Along with the already prescribed methods — masks, social distancing, washing hands — people will have to introduce a host of new measures to stop the infection.

  • Masks may be needed indoors, even in socially distant settings.
  • Health care workers may need N95 masks that filter out even the smallest respiratory droplets as they care for coronavirus patients.
  • Ventilation systems in schools, nursing homes, residences and businesses may need to minimize recirculating air and add powerful new filters.
  • Ultraviolet lights may be needed to kill viral particles floating in tiny droplets indoors.


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