The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its guidance at the weekend to acknowledge that the novel coronavirus can be transmitted through the air at distances farther than six feet.
The agency said COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, can be contracted through droplets or small particles, such as those in aerosols like coughs and sneezes.
Several months ago, scientists urged the CDC and the World Health organization to acknowledge the disease was transmissible through the air.
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The latest update by the CDC, the leading agency in the world, is a recognition that standing six feet apart is no guarantee a person would not be exposed to the coronavirus.
The CDC said airborne transmission is now thought to be the main way the virus spreads and that proper ventilation was important. The previous belief was that a person-to-person transmission was more common.
“There is growing evidence that droplets and airborne particles can remain suspended in the air and be breathed in by others, and travel distances beyond six feet (for example, during choir practice, in restaurants, or in fitness classes). In general, indoor environments without good ventilation increase this risk,” the agency wrote.
The agency recently also updated its guidance around testing for asymptomatic people after saying last August that asymptomatic people did not need to be tested, an update that, was against the recommendation of scientists.
The acknowledgement that the coronavirus virus can be transmitted more than six feet apart puts into question recommendations by health experts around the world to keep six feet distance to prevent the spread of the virus.
Nearly one million people have died worldwide, 200,000 people in the United States and around 34,000 people in Africa.