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Global experts warn of COVID-19 airborne threat

AFP
Washington
An international group of 239 scientists on Monday urged authorities including the World Health Organization to recognise that the coronavirus can spread in the air at distances well beyond two meters (six feet), and to revise their prevention guidelines accordingly.
In a commentary that appeared in the Oxford Academic journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, researchers wrote that studies have shown “beyond any reasonable doubt” that viruses can travel tens of meters in the air, and analyses of certain spreading events had demonstrated the same was true of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19.
“Hand washing and social distancing are appropriate, but in our view, insufficient to provide protection from virus-carrying respiratory microdroplets released into the air by infected people,” wrote the authors, led by Lidia Morawska of the Queensland University of Technology.
Their recommendations included greater ventilation for indoor environments; the introduction of high efficiency air filters and ultraviolet lamps; and to avoid overcrowding in buildings and on public transport.
When an infected person coughs or sneezes, they expel droplets of various sizes. Those above five to ten micrometers fall to the ground quickly within a meter or two, while droplets under this size can become suspended in the air in what is called an “aerosol,” remaining aloft for far longer and traveling further.