The WHO has consistently held that the coronavirus infection spreads through droplets when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks, or for certain risky medical procedures, such as when patients are first put on breathing machines.
As such, airborne transmission involving aerosols or "aerosolic transmissions" refers to the diffusion of particles that obtain aerosols.
Where it stands: Knowledge about the symptoms and modes of transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is expanding. "Respiratory drops from infected individuals can also land on objects". But WHO is exploring whether the aerosols may also have been responsible for outbreaks in closed settings "such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing".
In a scientific brief published Thursday, the World Health Organization allowed that "short-range aerosol transmission, particularly in specific indoor locations, such as crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces over a prolonged period of time with infected persons can not be ruled out".
"They're in the air right now", World Health Organization spokeswoman Margaret Harris told reporters in Geneva. The world health body has however cautiously acknowledged that the airborne transmission mode is likely, but that more evidence is needed to be certain. "We nonetheless have to continue to keep doing the masking and the distancing and remaining home when probable".
Dr Benedetta Alleganzi, WHO technical director for infection prevention and control, said during a media briefing in Geneva on Tuesday that the agency had discussed and collaborated with numerous scientists who had signed up. the letter stating that the WHO was not right about air transmission.
However, as per the 10-page brief, the agency also looks at the possibilities for COVID-19 transmission from mother to child, from animals to humans and through contact with urine, feces, and blood.
Meanwhile, Dr Mike Ryan, head of WHO's emergencies programme, said it was unlikely that the new coronavirus would be eliminated.
The team will deal with logistical questions ahead of a bigger investigation, such as negotiating the composition of the fuller team and what skills the team would need.
"This is a respiratory pathogen and so it is significant that what we know suits into the advice that we have, which is why a comprehensive bundle of interventions are required to be equipped to stop transmission", Van Kerkhove explained. "It includes the use of masks where appropriate in certain parameters, specifically where physical detachments can not be made, and especially for health workers".