WHO explores COVID-19 airborne transmission

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – More than 230 scientists and infectious disease experts, from around the world, published an open letter in a scientific journal called Clinical Infectious Diseases.

They claim, whether propelled into the air by a sneeze or by someone simply breathing, the coronavirus is airborne gliding through spaces for an extended period of time.

At Mayor John Cooper’s COVID-19 task force briefing Tuesday, Dr. James Hildreth explained the findings. “Breathing the exhaled air from an infected person in a closed environment for more than a few minutes,” he said, “Results in infection by the virus.”

The letter goes on to explain that an infected person, speaking normally, can expel micro droplets.

“Which is less than a tenth of a diameter of a human hair,” explained Dr. Hildreth. Those can travel up to 40 feet infecting someone clear across the room.

Dr. Marshall Hall with TriStar Skyline Medical Center explains why, if confirmed, this distinction is so important.

These findings differ from the World Health Organization’s recent guidance that states infection occurs though droplets or larger particles. The WHO claims airborne transmission of the virus is possible only after medical procedures which produce tiny aerosols.

In a briefing Tuesday, Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove the WHO technical lead stated, “We’re also looking at the possible role of airborne transmission in other settings where you have particularly close settings. Where you have poor ventilation. We will be releasing our brief in the coming days.”

The open letter calls for changes in indoor ventilation which would incorporate outdoor air to limit re-circulation particularly in public buildings, work environments, schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. As well as the following, “Supply general ventilation with airborne infection controls such as local exhaust, UV lights, and highly efficient filtration,” said Dr. Hildreth.

COVID-19 in Tennessee

(This reflects what the TDH is reporting each day at 2 p.m. CST )

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