At a news briefing, the COVID-19 pandemic technical lead of WHO Maria Van Kerkhove said that they have been discussing aerosol and airborne transmission as possible modes of the spread of the infection, the report said.
Dr. Zain Chagla, an infectious disease physician and an associate professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, doesn't believe the novel coronavirus is transmitting through aerosols, at least not to an extent we should be anxious about.
Social distancing and face masks are still strong forms of protectionThe current World Health Organization recommendations for reducing coronavirus transmission focus mainly on handwashing and social distancing.
Until now, it was accepted that the disease transmitted through droplets through nose, eyes and mouth.
Henry added that, although it seems that COVID particles can be released through both large and small droplets when someone coughs, we don't know how potent those smaller ones are.
The authors of the open letter believe that a number of outbreaks, including several in meat processing plants, suggest that airborne transmission is important in settings where the virus can build up in the air, or where air is circulated by unfiltered air-conditioning units. However, we have some good examples, back with SARS, which is a similar virus, where there were clear cut examples of spread by aerosol.
COVID-19 spreads when an infectious person emits tiny virus-containing droplets.
It comes after a group of 239 global scientists concluded that exhaled droplets under five micrometres in size containing the virus are capable of becoming suspended in the air for several hours and traveling up to tens of metres.
But a group of more than 200 scientists want them to consider another form of transmission - through aerosols, which are produced when you speak or breathe out, and hang around in the air for hours.
Generally, you need to be 15 minutes or more in the vicinity of an infected person and within two metres of them, to be considered at-risk, or a close contact.
Van Kerkhove said the World Health Organization would publish a scientific brief summarising the state of knowledge on modes of transmission of the virus in the coming days.
However, the letter stresses that evidence so far suggests this potential threat may be limited to indoor spaces where microdroplets could travel tens of metres across a large, poorly ventilated room while settling from a height of 1.5 metres to the floor.
She said the reason respiratory viruses are often stronger in the winter is not related to temperature - but to the fact that people spend more time indoors.
Mention may be made that a group of 239 scientists from 32 countries has accused the agency of underestimating the possibility of airborne spread of coronavirus, which has already infected over 11 million people and claimed over 5 lakh lives worldwide.