They say to prevent infection and the slow transmission of COVID-19, as we know it, it's important to stay home and practice physical distancing, among other precautions.
But what if all this time, the coronavirus was actually airborne?
Apparently, that's what 239 scientists in 32 countries are out to prove in an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO). The group, which plans to publish the letter in a scientific journal, have evidence that the virus can be transmitted by breathing in floating air droplets.
University of Maryland professor of environmental health Donald Milton, one of the letter's two main authors, recently told CNN, "The airborne transmission word seems to be loaded. I guess we are hoping that WHO will come around and be more willing to acknowledge the important roles of aerosols, whether they want to call it airborne transmission or not."
The WHO has previously asserted that COVID-19 is spread mainly through droplets from an infected person's nose and mouth — coughs and sneezes — that instantly fall to the floor. As per The New York Times, the agency's technical lead on infection control Dr. Benedetta Allegranzi described proof of the coronavirus' airborne nature as "unconvincing."
"Especially in the last couple of months, we have been stating several times that we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence," she explained. "There is a strong debate on this."
The article has reached the WHO and is being reviewed by its technical experts, according to an email from spokesman Tarik Jasarevic to Reuters.