World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Friday praised the successful efforts at containment of the coronavirus in Dharavi slum in Mumbai.

In a media briefing, Ghebreyesus said: “There are many examples from around the world that have shown that even if the outbreak is very intense, it can still be brought back under control. “And some of these examples are Italy, Spain and South Korea, and even in Dharavi – a densely packed area in the mega city of Mumbai – a strong focus on community engagement and the basics of testing, tracing, isolating and treating all those that are sick is key to breaking the chains of transmission and suppressing the virus.”

Dharavi reported 12 new cases on Friday, according to Mumbai Mirror. The total number of cases in Asia’s largest slum is 2,359, but the number of active cases is just 166.

Ghebreyesus was addressing a media briefing on the “Access Initiative for Quitting Tobacco” to help 1.3 billion tobacco users around the world quit the habit during the pandemic.

But Ghebreyesus also lamented that worldwide, the number of coronavirus cases had more than doubled in six weeks. As of Saturday morning, the world had recorded over 1.24 crore cases, including more than 5.59 lakh deaths.

He called for “aggressive action combined with national unity and global solidarity” to bring the pandemic under control. “There’s a lot of work still to be done,” he said. “From countries where there is exponential growth, to places that are loosening restrictions and now starting to see cases rise.”

WHO still says more research needed to prove airborne spread

Meanwhile, WHO released new guidelines acknowledging some reports on the airborne transmission of the coronavirus, but said that more research is “urgently needed to investigate such instances and assess their significance for transmission of Covid-19”, Reuters reported. The WHO said the coronavirus spreads through contact with contaminated surfaces or close contact with infected people who spread the virus through saliva, respiratory secretions or droplets released when a person carrying the contagion coughs, sneezes, speaks or sings.

The new guidelines asked people to avoid crowds and ensure good ventilation in buildings, and wear masks especially when physical distancing is not possible.

On July 6, a group of 239 scientists had written an open letter to the global health body asserting that the coronavirus is transmitted through the air. In April, a group of 36 experts on air quality and aerosols had urged WHO to consider growing evidence on airborne transmission of the virus.

The WHO has long dismissed the possibility that the coronavirus spreads through the air except for certain risky medical procedures. However, on July 7, the WHO acknowledged for the first time that there was “evidence emerging” that the transmission of the coronavirus is airborne. Benedetta Allegranzi, WHO’s technical lead for infection prevention and control, had said at a media briefing in Geneva that such evidence was emerging, but it was not definitive.