LONDON: The World Health Organisation and around 500 experts have agreed for the first time what it means for a disease to spread through the air, in a bid to avoid the confusion early in the Covid-19 pandemic that some scientists have said cost lives.

The Geneva-based UN health agency released a technical document on the topic on Thursday. It said it was the first step towards working out how to better prevent this kind of transmission, both for existing diseases like measles and for future pandemic threats.

The document concludes that the descriptor “through the air” can be used for infectious diseases where the main type of transmission involves the pathogen travelling through the air or being suspended in the air, in line with other terms such as “waterborne” diseases, which are understood across disciplines and by the public.

Almost 500 experts contributed to the definition, including physicists, public health professionals and engineers, many of whom disagreed bitterly over the topic in the past.

Agencies have historically required high levels of proof before calling diseases airborne, which required very stringent containment measures; the new definition says the risk of exposure and severity of disease should also be considered.

Published in Dawn, April 19th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Debt trap
Updated 30 May, 2024

Debt trap

The task before the government is to boost its tax-to-GDP ratio to the global average by taxing the economy’s untaxed and undertaxed sectors.
Foregone times
30 May, 2024

Foregone times

THE past, as they say, is a foreign country. It seems that the PML-N’s leadership has chosen to live there. Nawaz...
Margalla fires
30 May, 2024

Margalla fires

THE Margalla Hills — the sprawling 12,605-hectare national park — were once again engulfed in flames, with 15...
First steps
Updated 29 May, 2024

First steps

One hopes that this small change will pave the way for bigger things.
Rafah inferno
29 May, 2024

Rafah inferno

THE level of barbarity witnessed in Sunday’s Israeli air strike targeting a refugee camp in Rafah is shocking even...
On a whim
29 May, 2024

On a whim

THE sudden declaration of May 28 as a public holiday to observe Youm-i-Takbeer — the anniversary of Pakistan’s...