3D illustration of the coronavirus on a colored background.
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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday revised their guidelines on coronavirus, recognizing that it can sometimes spread through airborne particles that can "linger in the air for minutes to hours," as well as among people who are longer are more than two meters apart.
The CDC cited published reports showing "limited, unusual circumstances in which people with COVID-19 infected others who were more than 6 feet away or shortly after the COVID-19 positive person left an area".
"In these cases, transmission occurred in poorly ventilated and enclosed spaces, which often involved activities that made breathing heavier, such as singing or exercise," the CDC said in a statement. "Such environments and activities can contribute to the formation of virus-carrying particles."
The agency added that it is "much more common" for the virus to spread via larger respiratory droplets that arise when someone coughs, sneezes, sings, speaks or breathes. Most people are infected by such droplets when they are in close contact with an infected person, the CDC said.
"The CDC's recommendations remain the same, based on existing scientific evidence and after a thorough technical review of the guidelines," the agency said. "People can protect themselves from the virus that causes COVID-19 by staying at least three feet away from others, wearing a mask that covers their nose and mouth, washing their hands frequently, cleaning surfaces frequently, and staying home when sick . "
The updated guide comes after the agency mistakenly released a revision last month that said the virus could spread through aerosols, small droplets that can linger in the air. The guidance was quickly removed from the CDC website as it was merely "a draft of the proposed changes," the agency said.
To what extent the coronavirus can spread through particles in the air has been controversial among scientists for months. Some epidemiologists have alleged that the World Health Organization as well as federal regulators in many countries have been slow to accept that the virus can spread by air. This debate could have implications for the role of air filtration in reopening businesses and schools.
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