The World Health Organization on Tuesday acknowledged “evidence emerging” of the airborne spread of the novel coronavirus, after a group of scientists urged the global body to update its guidance on how the respiratory disease passes between people.

“We have been talking about the possibility of airborne transmission and aerosol transmission as one of the modes of transmission of Covid-19,” Maria Van Kerkhove, technical lead on the Covid-19 pandemic at the WHO, told a news briefing.

The WHO has previously said the virus that causes the Covid-19 respiratory disease spreads primarily through small droplets expelled from the nose and mouth of an infected person that quickly sink to the ground.

But in an open letter to the Geneva-based agency, published on Monday in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal, 239 scientists in 32 countries outlined evidence that they say shows floating virus particles can infect people who breathe them in.

Because those smaller exhaled particles can linger in the air, the scientists are urging WHO to update its guidance.

Speaking at Tuesday’s briefing in Geneva, Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, said there was evidence emerging of airborne transmission of the coronavirus, but that it was not definitive.

“…The possibility of airborne transmission in public settings – especially in very specific conditions, crowded, closed, poorly ventilated settings that have been described, cannot be ruled out,” she said.

“However, the evidence needs to be gathered and interpreted, and we continue to support this.”

Any change in the WHO’s assessment of risk of transmission could affect its current advice on keeping 1-metre (3.3 feet) of physical distancing. Governments, which rely on the agency for guidance policy, may also have to adjust public health measures aimed at curbing the spread of the virus.

Van Kerkhove said the WHO would publish a scientific brief summarising the state of knowledge on modes of transmission of the virus in the coming days.

“A comprehensive package of interventions is required to be able to stop transmission,” she said.

“This includes not only physical distancing, it includes the use of masks where appropriate in certain settings, specifically where you can’t do physical distancing and especially for healthcare workers.”

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KOLKATA: A woman attempted suicide by jumping before a goods train along with her two minor daughter at New Jalpaiguri railway station on Tuesday.
The woman and her daughters were taken to Matigara hospital from where they were referred North Bengal Medical College Hospital in serious condition.
The woman’s husband, a school teacher by profession, had succumbed to coronavirus infection.
Doctors said that the woman was in psychological trauma after the death of her husband. She took her daughters to a foot over-bridge at New Jalpaiguri station from where they jumped on the tracks in front of an approaching goods train.
Police are trying to find out if the three were facing social ostracism after her husband’s death due to Covid-19.



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Latest high-resolution images show that China has for the time being honoured the disengagement agreement and pulled back at least one km from the point of confrontation of June 15.

This is the second de-escalation by the two sides in the river valley in recent times. (Image: Maxar Technologies/ India Today)

The Chinese pullback in the Galwan river valley has been confirmed by the latest satellite images reviewed by India Today. High-resolution images captured on July 6, shows that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has pulled back at least one km from the point of confrontation of June 15. The images show that the tents, vehicles and pre-fabricated roofs put up by the PLA near patrol point 14 (PP14) have been removed by the Chinese troops.

The images captured by Worldview 3 satellite of space firm Maxar Technologies and shared with India Today, also suggest that the Chinese troops have rebuilt roads which lead to PP14 over past few days. These roads were badly affected due to overflowing water in the Galwan River.

In the new imagery, newly built roads are seen empty and no new construction work or human activity was seen in the forward area. The first Chinese tent is visible almost one km away from the point of conflict in Chinese territory.

Image Caption: Maxar Technologies/ India Today

After the incident of June 15, the Chinese army had dramatically increased its presence near this point with dozens of camouflaged tents and vehicles.

Image Caption: Maxar Technologies/ India Today

Speaking to India Today Col (Retd) Ajai Shukla said “it’s a good step forward, but there has been no word on the forward movement in the negotiations in Pangong and Depsang. We want pullback from all sectors, we don’t want the Chinese troops to pull back from one sector and retain other two, we need to be wary of these Chinese tactics”.

Image Caption: Maxar Technologies/ India Today

Both India and China confirmed de-escalation along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) on Monday following the official talks between India’s National Security Advisor Ajit Doval and Chinese State Councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi.

This is the second de-escalation by the two sides in the river valley in recent times. The first de-escalation happened after the military talks on June 6 but didn’t stop the June 15 hand to hand combat in which both sides suffered causalities.

IndiaToday.in has plenty of useful resources that can help you better understand the coronavirus pandemic and protect yourself. Read our comprehensive guide (with information on how the virus spreads, precautions and symptoms), watch an expert debunk myths, and access our dedicated coronavirus page.
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