World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

The World Health Organization published an update on Thursday that states that airborne transmission of the novel coronavirus is possible, especially in poorly ventilated buildings.

Why it matters: Hundreds of scientists around the world have called on the WHO, which informs public health policy around the world, to acknowledge that particles containing the virus can float indoors and remain infectious, per the New York Times.

Where it stands: Knowledge about the symptoms and modes of transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is expanding. Here's what is known:

  • Airborne: COVID-19 has been known to possibly spread during medical procedures that generate aerosols. But WHO is exploring whether the aerosols may also have been responsible for outbreaks in closed settings "such as restaurants, nightclubs, places of worship or places of work where people may be shouting, talking, or singing.”
  • Droplets: WHO's update still maintains that the coronavirus is mainly transmitted through respiratory droplets directly or from being exposed to infected people via mouth and nose secretions. Some evidence suggests surfaces could indirectly infect others.
  • Asymptomatic spread: WHO confirms infected people can spread the virus when they don’t have symptoms. In June, WHO walked back comments that disregarded asymptomatic transmission, which caused public confusion.

Of note: WHO recently updated their face covering guidance to recommend that healthy people wear a mask in public and indoor settings when social distancing is not possible.

The bottom line: Several of these transmissions could happen at once, making it difficult for scientists to pinpoint the main mode of transmission. For example, people in choir practice, restaurants or fitness classes could be exposed to both aerosol and droplet transmission.

Go deeper

Fauci: Coronavirus task force to examine aerosolized spread


A sneeze. Photo: Maartje van Caspel/Getty Images

The White House coronavirus task force will examine more closely just how much SARS-CoV-2 might be transmitted via aerosols, and not just from droplets, NIAID director Anthony Fauci said Wednesday at an online forum sponsored by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Why it matters: The longer the coronavirus can remain infectious in the air, the more likely it can infect people, particularly indoors — leading to the possible need to alter air filtration and circulation within buildings.

Updated 18 hours ago - Health

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios VisualsThe

The Philippines' economy sunk into recession as its gross domestic product shrank 16.5% in the second quarter — marking the lowest reading since 1981, official figures show.

The big picture: Millions of Filipinos went on lockdown Tuesday as cases surged past 106,300, with stay-at-home orders in place for two weeks in Manila and nearby provinces on the island of Luzon, per the BBC. The economy's contraction is the "deepest" on record, Bloomberg notes.

Updated 23 hours ago - Technology

Facebook, Twitter take down Trump post saying kids are immune to coronavirus

Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

Facebook removed a video post from President Trump Wednesday in which he claimed in an interview with Fox News that children are "almost immune" to COVID-19.

Why it matters: It’s the first time that Facebook has removed content from Trump's account for violating policies on coronavirus-related misinformation.