July 10, 2020 / 4:41 PM / a month ago

WHO says airborne COVID transmission a concern but droplets appear dominant

FILE PHOTO: The World Health Organization (WHO) headquarters is seen in Geneva November 9, 2009. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

GENEVA (Reuters) - Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the COVID-19 pandemic at the WHO, said on Friday that airborne transmission of the new coronavirus had always been a concern but that droplets appeared to be the most common infection route.

“Aerosol transmission is one of the modes of transmission that we have been concerned about since the beginning, particularly in healthcare settings ... where we know these droplets can be aerosolised - which means can stay in the air longer,” she told an online briefing from Geneva.

The WHO released new guidelines on the transmission of the coronavirus on Thursday that acknowledged some reports of airborne transmission but stopped short of confirming that it spreads through the air, a route that cannot be blocked by the social distancing now common around the world.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay and Michael Shields in Geneva; Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Edmund Blair

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