Chinese media backtrack on claim coronavirus is airborne

This article was updated February 21.

Chinese state media have backtracked on their claim the deadly coronavirus is airborne.

On February 8 it was announced the virus can spread via aerosol transmission - meaning it can drift through the air for an extended period of time and cause infection if breathed in. 

"Aerosol transmission refers to the mixing of the virus with droplets in the air to form aerosols which causes infection after inhalation," Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau deputy head Zeng Qun was quoted as saying by China Daily.

The publication then reversed this claim, saying there is "no definitive answer" whether the virus is airborne.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has also corrected the announcement saying coronavirus was not known to be an airborne virus. 

In order to confirm it was airborne, the virus would have to be recovered from air samples - which has not happened. 

The Chinese government is urging residents to cancel all social activities and avoid large gatherings of people, reports China Daily. 

Coronavirus only has two known modes of transmission. 

Direct transmission occurs when a person breathes the air close to an infected person who has coughed or sneezed. 

Contact transmission is when a person touches a contaminated surface then infects themselves by touching their mouth, eyes or nose. 

Coronavirus broke out in the city of Wuhan in China's Hubei province in late December. Thought to have originated in a live market, the disease causes fever, coughing and breathing difficulty. In severe cases it can cause pneumonia and organ failure. 

The virus has killed more than 800 people and infected 37,198 globally.

Only two people have died outside of mainland China - one in Hong Kong and the other in the Philippines. 



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