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WHO: COVID-19 Can Remain Airborne

Medically reviewed by Regina Victoria Boyles, MD · Pediatrics

Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao · Updated Nov 13, 2022

WHO: COVID-19 Can Remain Airborne

COVID-19 has put the world at a standstill. But even with growing research into the nature of the virus, it appears that there is still much that we don’t know. And every day, researchers are making new discoveries. The latest of which is that coronavirus can remain airborne.

But how exactly can COVID-19 droplets remain suspended in air?

Here’s what we know so far.

Coronavirus can remain airborne, the WHO confirms

Since the start of the pandemic, different health organizations have encouraged the use of face masks or personal protective equipment (PPE).

And the World Health Organization (WHO) has also confirmed that COVID-19 is transmissible through direct, indirect, or close contact with infected droplets. These droplets include secretions from the mouth and nose, such as saliva, respiratory secretions expelled through coughing and sneezing.

However, the WHO has recently acknowledged that the current strain of coronavirus can remain airborne.

A letter signed by 239 researchers from 32 different countries claimed that COVID-19 can be transmitted from person-to-person through tiny droplets in the air called aerosols.

Aerosols are tiny suspended particles found in the air, which poses more risks to people who are far away from the point of origin.

Aerosols can remain airborne in crowded, poor ventilated spaces can transmit COVID-19

Previously, the WHO stated that COVID-19 can only remain airborne in medical settings, specifically, during procedure that generate aerosols. One good example of this is the intubation process of a COVID patient.

Endotracheal intubation is the intubation method doctors do to support the breathing of COVID patients who are severely infected. The intubation process produces infectious aerosol particles that might infect the people around the patient.

However, recent claims show that closed areas or poorly ventilated places can be just as dangerous.

The researchers have claimed that the novel coronavirus remains suspended in the air. What this means is that the virus could have the potential to be twice as infectious.

Upon the urging of the CDC, the WHO conceded and backed claims that COVID-19 droplets can remain suspended in air.

A person who carries the virus could leave aerosol particles in the air.  This could infect a passerby, who inadvertently inhaled these aerosols.

There have been countless reports of ‘superspreader’ events in crowded places such as restaurants, bars, places of worship, public transportations, workplace, and schools. These reports can attest to the claim that coronavirus can remain airborne.

Although WHO accepts this ‘emerging evidence’. The organization still stands with science proven claims that these mass infections results from the large droplets of secretions through coughing and sneezing.

Another fact worth noting is that asymptomatic COVID patients can still infect other people, as opposed to the early notion that only people with symptoms can.

For example, if you enter a room that an asymptomatic person has recently been in, there is a possibility that everyone in the room might eventually carry the virus as well.

With these discoveries, the WHO is still encouraging everyone around the world to follow strict health protocols to prevent further rise in COVID cases and casualties.

How can you further protect yourself from COVID-19? 

Now that the WHO considers that coronavirus can remain airborne in certain instances, there are safety measures that you can take to protect yourself.

Staying at home

Refrain from going outdoors as much as possible, if there is nothing important that you need to accomplish outside the comfort of your home. Avoid crowded places to prevent close-contact transmission or aerosol transmission as coronavirus can remain airborne.

Preventing yourself from touching your face

Avoid touching your face when you are outside or if you are aware that you haven’t washed your hands yet. Your hands can transfer the virus from things you touched to your face. Touching your eyes, nose and mouth can be a gateway for the coronavirus to get in your body.

Following strict social/physical distancing protocols

The WHO endorses that a person must distance oneself for at least 1 meter from people who aren’t part of the household.

Following these preventive actions is a must when having guests at home or going out in public.

Observing good hygiene

  • Washing your hands. Always make sure that you wash your hand before and after touching anything. This will ensure that you don’t transfer or acquire the virus whenever you touch your face and other people or things around you. Wash your hands and scrub it for about 20 seconds before rinsing. Singing or humming the ‘happy birthday song’ twice is the perfect duration of the handwashing process.
  • Using alcohol or alcohol-based hand sanitizers. It is best to keep a bottle of alcohol or hand sanitizer with you at all times. If water and soap are not accessible, these will help you keep your hands clean until you get home. Remember to use a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer or 70% isopropyl alcohol in keeping your hands clean.
  • Bathing/showering once you get home. Keep in mind that being outside during the pandemic is dangerous not only for you but also for people in your household.

Now that the WHO concedes that the novel-coronavirus can remain airborne indoors, there is a great possibility that coronavirus particles can be carried by anyone, anywhere at any time.

Maintaining good hygiene and clean surroundings is a must.

Wearing masks or personal protective equipment (PPE)

Several countries around the world, including the Philippines, have made wearing masks mandatory to its citizens. Surgical-grade masks are expected to be used as a primary protective gear for people in public areas.

You can also make use of cloth masks if surgical masks are not available, and especially if you are not in a medical setting. Some also prefer to use face or eye shields in order to minimize possible exposure to COVID-19.

Medical front liners or people who work in crowded areas need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). Wearing PPEs can help shield them against the infectious COVID-19 virus.

Isolate yourself when not feeling well

The incubation period of COVID-19 takes 5 to 6 days or 14 days, at most. If you are not feeling well (feverish, coughing, persistent headache), it is best to isolate yourself for about 14 days until you recover, if you are unvaccinated against covid 19. This quarantine period becomes shorter, depending on one’s covid vaccination status.

Calling for emergency

If you’re still experiencing COVID-like symptoms past the incubation period, call the nearest hospital immediately. You can also contact the DOH COVID-19 emergency hotlines 02-894-COVID (02-894-26843) and 1555-COVID-19 for COVID-19 assistance.

Seeking immediate medical attention is the most important safety protocol you can do. Because doing this will help authorities to quickly contact-trace every person you have encountered and test them for coronavirus infection.

Key takeaways

The world still isn’t sure about how long COVID-19 will last. Scientists and researchers around the world are still in search of the vaccine and cure to finally obliterate the COVID-19 threat.

All we can do for now is to comply with stricter safety protocols as the coronavirus can remain airborne. Always be on the lookout for coronavirus updates from trusted sources. This will help you be aware of any news and progress about how we can better protect ourselves and our families.

Learn more about Covid-19, here.


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Regina Victoria Boyles, MD


Written by Mayvilyn Cabigao · Updated Nov 13, 2022

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