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Airborne Transmission Of Novel Coronavirus Can Occur In Healthcare Settings: World Health Organisation

According to the World Health Organisation’s new guidelines, airborne transmission of Coronavirus can occur in healthcare settings where specific medical procedures generate very small droplets – aerosols

Airborne Transmission Of Novel Coronavirus Can Occur In Healthcare Settings: World Health Organisation
  • COVID-19 spreads between people through direct, indirect, close contact
  • WHO acknowledged aerosol transmission in healthcare settings
  • More research is required on transmission through aerosols: WHO

New Delhi: On Thursday (July 9), the World Health Organisation (WHO) shared an update to the scientific brief of March 29 entitled “Modes of transmission of virus causing COVID-19: Implications for infection prevention and control (IPC) precaution recommendations”. According to the new guidelines, airborne transmission of Coronavirus can occur in healthcare settings where specific medical procedures generate very small droplets – aerosols. However, more research is required on transmission routes and airborne transmission in the absence of aerosol generating procedures.

Also Read: Precautions To Take Till Airborne Transmission Of COVID-19 Is Further Researched And WHO Assesses The ‘Emerging Evidence’

The new guidelines come days after 239 scientists from 32 countries wrote an open letter to WHO claiming airborne transmission of coronavirus beyond aerosol generating procedures. In an open-access article ‘It is time to address airborne transmission of COVID-19’ published in Oxford University Press for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, it’s stated, “Viruses are released during exhalation, talking, and coughing in micro-droplets small enough to remain aloft in air and pose a risk of exposure at distances beyond 1 to 2 m from an infected individual.”

Transmission Of Novel Coronavirus

In the scientific brief, WHO has talked about possible modes of transmission for SARS-CoV-2, including contact, droplet, airborne, fomite, fecal-oral, and others.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: What Is A Coronavirus And COVID-19?

Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 can occur through direct, indirect (through contaminated objects or surfaces), or close contact with infected people through infected secretions such as saliva and respiratory secretions or their respiratory droplets, which are expelled when an infected person coughs, sneezes, talks or sings, says the WHO.

Apart from contact and droplet transmission, WHO acknowledged airborne transmission and reported outbreaks of COVID-19 in some closed settings, such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people maybe shouting, talking, or singing.

In these events, 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 cannot be ruled out, said WHO.

The health organisation also noted that transmission of the virus could have happened due to close contact, lack of hand hygiene and physical distancing and no use of face mask. Having said that, WHO called for more studies to investigate such instances and assess their significance for transmission of COVID-19.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: What Are The Different Stages Of COVID-19 Transmission

It has also called for research on the dose of virus required for transmission to occur; the settings and risk factors for super spreading events; and the extent of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission.

Agreeing with WHO’s current stand based on the information available as of now, Dr Giridhara R Babu, Professor and Head, Lifecourse Epidemiology, Indian Institute of Public Health, PHFI, Bengaluru said,

As of now the evidence suggests that if a distance is more than 1 meter then likelihood of virus spreading is less even if it’s airborne. A high propensity of virus transmission exists in a closed setting and close contact between two people where they are not using masks.

However, the scientists have claimed that the virus in the air pose risk at distances beyond 1 to 2 meter as well. This problem is especially acute in indoor or enclosed environments, particularly those that are crowded and have inadequate ventilation relative to the number of occupants and extended exposure periods. Commenting on scientists’ claim, Dr Giridhara R Babu said,

I would want to see the evidence. As of now, it’s a theoretical possibility. The real evidence suggests that in closed contacts and closed spaces like let’s say there is an AC hall where many people work. In that hall, there is one infected person and no one is wearing a mask then there is a really high risk of virus spreading within 1 meter of that person. Therefore, the propensity to spread is greater in a closed space. So it’s not just about airborne transmission but also about what kind of setting we are in.

However, Dr Harsh Mahajan, Founder Of Mahajan Imaging and Chairman of CARINGdx, believes WHO has been very cautious and careful in its guidelines for the general public and healthcare workers throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. He is of the opinion that WHO should have overstated the problem and said,

Even now it (WHO) has come up with a guarded statement about the airborne transmission of this highly contagious disease. It may have been better in such circumstances for WHO and other authorities to err on the side of overstating the dangers of airborne transmission so that people end up taking more precautions and being more careful, so as to lower the chances of the rapid spread of this disease.

Also Read: Coronavirus Outbreak Explained: What Is A Cytokine Storm And How Is It Fuelling COVID-19? Experts Answer

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene


Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,06,78,961 and 48,98,653 have died; 20,23,40,977 are active cases and 3,34,39,331 have recovered as on October 18, 2021 at 4:17 am.


3,40,81,315 13,596Cases
3,34,39,331 19,582Recovered
4,52,290 166Deaths
In India, there are 3,40,81,315 confirmed cases including 4,52,290 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,89,694 and 3,34,39,331 have recovered as on October 18, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths

65,91,697 1,715

32,230 994

64,19,678 2,680

1,39,789 29


48,54,321 7,555

88,186 3,292

47,39,270 10,773

26,865 74


29,83,459 326

9,479 58

29,36,039 380

37,941 4

Tamil Nadu

26,87,092 1,218

14,814 208

26,36,379 1,411

35,899 15

Andhra Pradesh

20,60,472 432

6,034 159

20,40,131 586

14,307 5

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,028 9

119 10

16,87,011 19


West Bengal

15,80,530 624

7,421 24

15,54,132 634

18,977 14


14,39,390 32

320 6

14,13,981 38



10,35,077 443

4,542 68

10,22,250 508

8,285 3


10,05,654 16

183 2

9,91,901 14



9,54,390 2

42 2

9,45,394 4



8,26,290 10

207 6

8,15,997 16


Madhya Pradesh

7,92,684 5

84 12

7,82,077 17



7,71,076 15

123 9

7,60,904 6



7,26,026 5

48 4

7,16,317 1



6,68,955 122

3,924 55

6,61,093 176

3,938 1


6,06,468 205

3,436 46

5,97,082 245

5,950 6


6,02,035 27

227 8

5,85,264 16

16,544 3


3,48,430 7

122 1

3,43,173 8



3,43,756 9

178 1

3,36,181 8


Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,062 95

843 12

3,25,793 107


Himachal Pradesh

2,21,437 131

1,303 5

2,16,414 125

3,720 1


1,77,522 60

604 6

1,73,572 62

3,346 4


1,27,396 52

585 13

1,24,961 64

1,850 1


1,22,737 104

1,422 0

1,19,418 102

1,897 2


1,12,848 249

11,633 1,143

1,00,829 1,389

386 3


84,321 16

104 4

83,401 12



82,953 55

845 32

80,673 86

1,435 1


65,302 3

25 3

64,457 6


Arunachal Pradesh

54,987 7

140 30

54,567 37



31,749 4

174 8

31,184 12



31,611 40

248 12

30,689 28



20,878 2

36 10

20,634 12


Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,676 1

4 1





0 0



Andaman And Nicobar Islands


9 0



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