Evidence suggests coronavirus transmission through breathing


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WASHINGTON — A message to the White House from the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine found strong evidence in the existing scientific literature that the novel coronavirus may be spread through normal breathing.

The report, issued on April 1, buttresses the argument that asymptomatic people should wear masks to reduce inadvertent transmission of the virus.

In an email to Science Insider, Kimberly Prather, an aerosol chemist at the University of California, San Diego, said she was "relieved to see aerosolization is accepted."

"This added airborne pathway helps explain why it is spreading so fast," she said.

As late as March 27, a scientific brief from the World Health Organization stated that an analysis of more than 75,000 COVID-19 cases in China found no cases of the virus spreading through aerosols.

On April 3, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reversed its previous advice on wearing masks in public, and recommended that everyone wear cloth face coverings while in public during the pandemic.

In its announcement, the CDC stressed that surgical masks or N-95 respirators must be reserved for healthcare workers and other first responders.

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