WHO praises Dharavi’s Covid-19 containment strategy as the agency confirms coronavirus can be airborne indoors
While nations continue to brave the unprecedented Covid-19 outbreak, as case numbers have more than doubled in the past six weeks worldwide, the World Health Organisation said on Friday that it is still possible to bring the outbreak under control.
WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the examples of Italy, Spain, South Korea and India’s biggest slum Dharavi showed that however bad a outbreak was, the virus could still be brought back under control in through aggressive action.
Citing examples of Italy, Spain, South Korea, and Dharavi, Mumbai’s densely packed area the WHO chief said that a strong focus on community engagement and the basics of testing, tracing, isolating and treating all those that are infected is key to breaking the chains of transmission and suppressing the virus.
Covid-19 has killed at least 555,000 people worldwide since the outbreak emerged in China in December 2019, as per a tally from official sources compiled by AFP on Friday.
Around 12.3 million cases have been recorded in 196 countries and territories.
The UN health agency has also acknowledged the possibility that the novel coronavirus might be spread in the air under certain conditions — after more than 200 scientists urged the WHO to do so.
In an open letter published earlier this week in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, two researchers from Australia and the US wrote that studies have shown “beyond any reasonable doubt that viruses are released during exhalation, speaking and coughing in microdroplets small enough to remain aloft in the air.”
The scientists along with more than 200 others, urged for national and international authorities, including the WHO, to adopt more stringent protective measures.
In a change to its previous stance, the WHO acknowledged on July 9 that some outbreak reports related to indoor crowded spaces have suggested the possibility of aerosol transmission, such as during choir practice, in restaurants or in fitness classes.
However, the agency said more research is urgently needed to study such instances and assess their significance for transmission of the virus.
WHO had long downplayed the possibility that the novel coronavirus is spread in the air except for certain risky medical procedures, such as when patients are first put on breathing machines.
Meanwhile, as the outbreak continues to rage across the world, the number of Covid-19 infections in India spiked to 820,916 after recording over more than 27,100 cases in the last 24 hours.
The US remained the worst hit country as it registered at least 62,500 new Covid-19 cases on Friday in a record daily increase for the third consecutive day.