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WHO Revises Position on How Virus Spreads

Agency can't rule out airborne transmission, warns of crowded indoor places
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 9, 2020 7:35 PM CDT
Updated Jul 10, 2020 1:10 AM CDT

(Newser) – The World Health Organization recognized Thursday that research has shown the coronavirus can remain in the air in crowded indoor places—after earlier dismissing the possibility of such transmission as rare. The agency gave gyms and restaurants—even choir practice—as examples of places where floating particles could infect people, CNBC reports. Short-range aerosol transmission at such places "cannot be ruled out," according to the updated guidance. The virus is most commonly spread through respiratory droplets, the WHO repeated, but it said more research is needed.

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The revision was overdue, more than 200 scientists believe; they'd written the WHO insisting it acknowledge that airborne particles indoors are infectious, per the New York Times. The WHO also addressed asymptomatic transmission more forcefully Thursday. "Infected people can transmit the virus both when they have symptoms and when they don’t have symptoms," the organization said, per the Times. Some experts welcomed the changes but added that they were the least the agency could do. "It is refreshing to see that WHO is now acknowledging that airborne transmission may occur," one said, "although it is clear that the evidence must clear a higher bar for this route compared to others." (Read more World Health Organization stories.)

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