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Monday, July 06, 2020, 15:59
Scientists say virus is airborne, ask WHO to revise guidelines: NYT
By Agencies
Monday, July 06, 2020, 15:59 By Agencies

A healthcare worker prepares to draw blood at a drive-through coronavirus testing site outside the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, July 5, 2020. (WILFREDO LEE / AP)

STOCKHOLM / LIMA / MEXICO CITY / BRASILIA - Hundreds of scientists say there is evidence that novel coronavirus in smaller particles in the air can infect people and are calling for the World Health Organization (WHO) to revise recommendations, the New York Times (NYT) reported on Saturday.

The WHO has said the coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, spreads primarily from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth, which are expelled when a person with COVID-19 coughs, sneezes or speaks.

In an open letter to the agency, which the researchers plan to publish in a scientific journal next week, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined the evidence showing smaller particles can infect people, the NYT said.

The WHO did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

ALSO READ: WHO halts hydroxychloroquine, HIV drugs trial for COVID-19

Whether carried by large droplets that zoom through the air after a sneeze, or by much smaller exhaled droplets that may glide the length of a room, the coronavirus is borne through air and can infect people when inhaled, the scientists said, according to the NYT.

However, the health agency said the evidence for the virus being airborne was not convincing, according to the NYT. "Especially in the last couple of months, we have been stating several times that we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence," Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO's technical lead of infection prevention and control, was quoted as saying by the NYT.

WHO

The WHO said on Sunday that it appreciated Sweden's move to set up a commission to review the country's handling of the coronavirus crisis.

"Sweden has done something very important by starting an investigation to understand how the strategy worked. The WHO really appreciates this initiative, which other countries should also learn from," WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet.

The Swedish government appointed a commission on June 30 to evaluate the country's coronavirus strategy and the roles of the government, public agencies and regional authorities in containing the spread of the novel coronavirus and its impact.

READ MORE: Sweden launches commission to investigate coronavirus response

The commission will be led by a lawyer and include representatives from the national health care system and municipalities as well as political scientists, economists, and experts on ethics and crisis handling, Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said at a news conference on June 30.

Brazil


Brazil recorded 26,051 new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours as well as 602 deaths, the Health Ministry said on Sunday.

Brazil has registered more than 1.6 million cases since the pandemic began, while cumulative deaths total 64,867, according to the ministry.

Chile

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera announced on Sunday a new US$1.5 billion package of measures to help keep the country´s ailing middle class afloat as the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the economy of the world´s top copper producer.

The measures include access to zero-interest loans, subsidized rent and the ability to defer mortgage loan payments for up to six months, Pinera said in a televised speech.

"The coronavirus pandemic...is hitting our middle class hard," Pinera said, touting the fresh round of stimulus as a bailout at least 1 million families.

Chile on Sunday reported its tally of infections rose by 3,685 to 295,532 while the death toll climbed by 116 to 6,308.

Mexico

Mexican health authorities reported 4,683 confirmed new infections of the novel coronavirus on Sunday, pushing its tally to a total of 256,848, and 273 more deaths to a total of 30,639.

Peru

Peru on Sunday jumped past 300,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the fifth-highest in the world, as the Andean nation of nearly 33 million people slowly reopens its battered economy.

Coronavirus cases rose by 3,638 on Sunday to 302,718, although new daily cases have slowed from peak levels in May and June. Health experts fear a potential flare-up, however, with more people on the streets as the lockdown eases.

Peru's death toll now stands at 10,589, the 10th-highest in the world, according to Reuters calculations.

US

Rising coronavirus cases in 39 US states cast a shadow over the nation's Fourth of July celebrations as health experts worried that holiday parties will cause a further spike in infections that could overwhelm hospitals.

Coronavirus cases in the US increased by almost 56,000 from Saturday, according to Johns Hopkins University, which updated its tracking website on Sunday after more than five hours without new data. With US cases totaling 2,874,396, deaths rose by 269 to 129,870.

Florida's cases climbed by 10,059 on Sunday, surpassing the highest daily tally reported by any European country during the height of the coronavirus outbreak there. Cases are also soaring in Arizona, California and Texas and trending upwards in Midwest states.

Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn said Sunday that he tested positive for the novel coronavirus, as he had been in contact with a person who had been tested positive. 

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