Evidence for the virus being airborne not convincing: WHO

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India has seen eight times the number of cases as China, which has a similar-sized population and is where the virus originated late last year.
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Hundreds of scientists say there is evidence that the novel coronavirus in smaller particles in the air can infect people and they are calling for the World Health Organization (WHO) to revise its recommendations, the New York Times reported on Saturday.

However, the health agency said the evidence for the virus being airborne was not convincing, according to the NYT.

"Especially in the last couple of months, we have been stating several times that we consider airborne transmission as possible but certainly not supported by solid or even clear evidence," Dr Benedetta Allegranzi, the WHO's technical lead of infection prevention and control, was quoted as saying.

World's third-highest

India now has the world's third-highest number of novel coronavirus cases behind Brazil and the United States, at nearly 700,000, according to the latest data, as the outbreak shows no sign of slowing.

India has seen eight times the number of cases as China, which has a similar-sized population and is where the virus originated late last year.

Late on Sunday, India cancelled the planned reopening of the Taj Mahal, citing the risk of coronavirus infections spreading in the city of Agra from visitors flocking to see India's most famous monument.

Agra, site of one of India's first big clusters of the virus, remains the worst-affected city in Uttar Pradesh, the country's most populous state.

Not since the Spanish flu

Officials are closing the border between Australia's two most populous states from Tuesday for an indefinite period as they scramble to contain an outbreak of the coronavirus in the city of Melbourne.

The decision marks the first time the border between Victoria and New South Wales has been shut in 100 years. Officials last blocked movement between the two states in 1919 during the Spanish flu pandemic. Victoria's only other internal border, with South Australia state, is already closed.

The number of COVID-19 cases in Melbourne, Victoria's capital, has surged in recent days, prompting authorities to enforce strict social-distancing orders in 30 suburbs and put nine public housing towers into complete lockdown.

Hydroxychloroquine and HIV drugs off the table

The WHO said on Saturday that it was discontinuing its trials of the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine and combination HIV drug lopinavir/ritonavir in hospitalised patients with COVID-19 after they failed to reduce mortality.

The setback came as the WHO also reported more than 200,000 new cases globally of the disease for the first time in a single day.

The U.N. agency said the decision, taken on the recommendation of the trial's international steering committee, does not affect other studies where those drugs are used for non-hospitalised patients or as a prophylaxis.

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