Evidence is starting to emerge on the airborne transmission of COVID-19, the World Health Organization (WHO) acknowledged on Tuesday, warning that the “epidemic is accelerating” worldwide.
“We recognize that evidence is emerging in this area and therefore we must be open to this possibility, and understand its implications,” said Benedetta Allegranzi, a WHO official, at a virtual press conference.
The day before, a group of international scientists had raised the alarm on this mode of contagion.
“The possibility of transmission by air in particularly crowded public places cannot be excluded. The evidence must, however, be gathered and interpreted, “said Mme Allegranzi, recommending “effective ventilation in closed places, physical distancing”. “When this is not possible, we recommend wearing a mask,” she added.
More than 200 international scientists on Monday urged the WHO and the international medical community to “recognize the potential for aerial transmission of COVID-19”, in an article published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases of Oxford.
The WHO, already criticized for having delayed recommending the masks, has been accused of refusing to see the accumulation of indications of an airborne spread of the virus.
The possibility of transmission by air in particularly crowded public places cannot be excluded. Evidence must, however, be gathered and interpreted.
“The epidemic is accelerating and we have not reached the peak,” warned WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus during the press conference.
“While the number of deaths seems to have stabilized globally, in reality, some countries have made significant progress in reducing the number of deaths, while in other countries, deaths are still increasing” , he said, recalling that 11.4 million cases had been recorded worldwide, and that the virus had killed more than 535,000 people in six months.
“We are all vulnerable,” he insisted, believing that the virus had “taken humanity hostage.”
“We have not seen anything like it since 1918,” he said, referring to the Spanish flu pandemic that claimed tens of millions of lives worldwide. “National unity and global solidarity are crucial and without them we will not be able to beat the virus,” he said.