3-d illustration of COVID-19

The National Basketball Association is set to restart it's 2019-2020 season at the end of July, meaning Giannis Antetokounmpo, LeBron James and Kawhi Leonard will soon again takeoff. Unfortunately, the basketball superstars might not be the only thing that's airborne this summer.

There has been a growing belief that COVID-19 has the ability to float in the air for long periods of time, reports ScienceNews. This includes more than 200 experts who signed off on an open letter to the World Health Organization (WHO). In the letter, published July 6, the experts encourage WHO to update its recommendations to include advice for dealing with airborne COVID-19.

WHO responded promptly by acknowledging how airborne transmission could be one of the ways COVID-19 can be spread - contract and droplet transmission have been viewed as the most common modes of transmission.

WHO defines airborne transmission as "the spread of an infectious agent caused by the dissemination of droplet nuclei (aerosols) that remain infectious when suspended in air over long distances and time." This type of transmission, according to WHO, can occur during medical procedures.

WHO cites other experimental studies on the matter. One study suggests droplets remain airborne after speech, though WHO says that this hasn't been validated against SARS-COV-2.

Some outbreaks reported at crowded indoor spaces suggest that aerosol transmission is possible outside of medical facilities. However, these outbreaks don't prove this form of transmission, says WHO.

"In these events, short-range aerosol transmission, particularly in specific indoor locations, such as crowded and inadequately ventilated spaces over a prolonged period of time with infected persons cannot be ruled out," says WHO in a recent briefing. "However, the detailed investigations of these clusters suggest that droplet and fomite transmission could also explain human-to-human transmission within these clusters. Further, the close contact environments of these clusters may have facilitated transmission from a small number of cases to many other people, especially if hand hygiene was not performed and masks were not used when physical distancing was not maintained.

To read the rest of WHO's recent brief on SARS-CoV-2 transmission, click here.