Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 28 May 2020

Rumours that coronavirus is airborne are false, WHO advises

The UN health agency says false information is being spread on social media

Coronavirus is not airborne and is carried in droplets from coughs, sneezes and people talking, the World Health Organisation said, after false rumours circulated on social media.

It was claimed the virus could linger in the air for up to eight hours, but the WHO explained this was not true.

It said the droplets of moisture from human beings that carry Covid-19 were too heavy to linger in the air.

You can be infected by the virus if you are within one metre of someone carrying the infection, or by touching your face after touching a surface an infected person has recently touched.

The advice is to practise effective social distancing, staying at least two metres from others, to not go out other than in an emergency or to obtain essentials.

People are also urged to wash their hands regularly, especially after coming into contact with others and the outside world.

Last Friday, the WHO said widespread testing for the virus was crucial and countries should not be faulted for reporting higher numbers of cases.

Dr Michael Ryan, executive director of the WHO's health emergencies programme, appealed for a shift towards public health strategies that allowed people “to live with this virus” until a vaccine is created.

His comments suggested a change in mindset at the WHO and an increased resignation that the virus would be around for a while.

More than 720,000 people across the world have the virus.

“At this point, no one can predict how long this epidemic is going to last,” Dr Ryan said.

“We are entering and moving to an uncertain future. … many countries around the world are just beginning the cycle of this epidemic.”

For weeks, WHO officials referred to a “window of opportunity” to try to contain the spread of the virus.

But lately there have been indications the containment window had closed.

Updated: March 30, 2020 04:45 PM

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