Health

CDC removes warning on airborne spread of COVID-19

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday it had posted guidance on possible transmission of the new coronavirus through airborne particles in error and it will be updating its recommendations.

Says guidance on possible airborne transmission was posted in error

A man wears a face mask as he looks at a COVID-19 information sign in Montreal, Sunday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the U.S. has taken down from its website information about risk of COVID-19 transmission through aerosols, which is says was posted in error. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Monday it had posted guidance on possible transmission of the new coronavirus through airborne particles in error and it will be updating its recommendations.

"A draft version of proposed changes to these recommendations was posted in error to the agency's official website," the CDC said.

The CDC did not immediately respond to Reuters request for comment on when the guidance will be updated.

The now-withdrawn guidance, posted on the agency's website on Friday, recommended that people use air purifiers to reduce airborne germs indoors to avoid the disease from spreading.

The health agency had said that COVID-19 could spread through airborne particles that can remain suspended in the air and travel beyond six feet.

Presently, the agency's guidance says the virus mainly spreads from person-to-person through respiratory droplets, which can land in the mouth or nose of people nearby. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has said it is monitoring "emerging evidence" of possible airborne transmission.

The WHO has not changed its policy on aerosol transmission of the coronavirus, an official said on Monday.

Aerosols 'main way virus spreads,' expert says

But one expert in airborne transmission of viruses said the removal of aerosol guidance from the CDC website "doesn't change the fact that transmission by aerosols is happening and that we know how to address it."

"There is an overwhelming amount of scientific evidence that aerosols are an important transmission route for COVID-19," said Linsey Marr, a professor of civil and environmenal engineering at Virginia Tech in a written statement about the issue. "The new wording that was published [FRIDAY] acknowledged that inhalation of aerosols (or microscopic droplets) is the main way that the virus spreads.

"CDC's recognition of airborne transmission would mean that that policies should emphasize wearing masks at all times in public buildings and ensuring good ventilation and filtration to control the pandemic."

With files from CBC News

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