According to experts, air conditioners that circulate the same air in a room must either be turned off or used with the windows open to stop the transmission of COVID-19 in the air.
British researchers say that those who use air conditioners that circulate the same air have an increased risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 if an infected person is in the same room.
According to the Telegraph, there are two types of air conditioners – those that take in and out air from the outside, and the “split unit” that circulates the same air.
According to the Chartered Institution of Building Service Engineers, air conditioners that do not have a “dedicated source of outside air into a room” could be responsible for the return and spread of airborne virus particles by way of socially distant users.
Dr. Shaun Fitzgerald, a member of the Royal Academy of Engineering, said opening a window with the air conditioning on is the best way to reduce the risk.
British researchers say that those who use air conditioners that circulate the same air have an increased risk of becoming infected with COVID-19 if an infected person is in the same room. The above image is an archive photo of a Daikin HVAC control panel and thermostat
"The recommended strategy, if you have one of these split units, is to open the window and sacrifice your desire for a cold or cool environment," Fitzgerald told the Telegraph.
“When there's a little bit of wind, it moves the air around. If you cannot open a window, switch off the device. "
In April, researchers blamed the air conditioner for the spread of the corona virus among at least nine other guests who ate in a restaurant in Guangzhou, China in January.
A research report published in Emerging Infectious Diseases magazine investigated the incident at a restaurant in Guangzhou in January that a family from Wuhan had arrived in – the city where the Covid-19 pandemic started.
Researchers say one member of this family had an asymptomatic case, and less than two weeks later, the patient, along with nine others, including family members, and two other groups at nearby tables in the restaurant, were diagnosed with the virus.
The affected tables in the windowless venue were about a meter apart, as the authors claim that the most likely cause of this outbreak was droplet transmission.
However, they say that droplets only stay in the air for a short time and only cover short distances.
As a result, they concluded that the air conditioning system was likely to have spread the virus further between the affected tables.
As of Saturday, more than 3.2 million Americans are infected with COVID-19. Of these, more than 134,000 have died.
The number of cases has increased in the American sun belt, where temperatures are usually the highest.
Experts disagree whether the coronavirus can spread through floating droplets in the air, although the World Health Organization has recognized that this is possible. The above image shows a woman wearing a face mask on July 6 in Miami Beach, Florida
British researchers' conclusion on air conditioning is found amid fierce debate among experts about how easily the corona virus can be transmitted through the air.
The Geneva-based World Health Organization admitted this week that the novel corona virus can spread through tiny airborne droplets. This alludes to more than 200 aerosol science experts who publicly complained that the United Nations agency had not warned the public about risk.
However, the WHO continues to insist on more precise evidence that the novel coronavirus that causes respiratory disease COVID-19 can be transmitted by air. This characteristic would equate it to measles and tuberculosis and requires even stricter measures to contain its spread.
"Unfortunately, the slow motion of the WHO on this subject is slowing control of the pandemic," said Jose Jimenez, a chemist from the University of Colorado who signed the public letter and asked the agency to change its guidelines.
Jimenez and other aerosol transmission experts have said that WHO is too attached to the idea that germs are spread primarily through contact with a contaminated person or object.
This idea was a basis of modern medicine and explicitly rejected the outdated miasma theory that originated in the Middle Ages and postulated that toxic, malodorous fumes from rotting matter caused diseases such as cholera and black death.
& # 39; It is part of the culture of medicine from the early 20th century. To accept that something was in the air, this very high level of evidence is required, ”said Dr. Donald Milton, aerobiologist at the University of Maryland and lead author of the open letter.
Such evidence could include studies in which laboratory animals get sick from exposure to the virus in the air, or studies that show viable virus particles in air samples – a level of evidence that can be used for other types of transmission, such as contact with contaminated surfaces, such as in letters, is not required signatories said.
Such evidence is required for the WHO as it recommends countries of all income and resource levels to take more drastic action against a pandemic that has killed more than 550,000 people worldwide with more than 12 million confirmed infections.
For example, hospitals would have to equip more medical personnel with high-performance N95 respirators – personal protective equipment is already in short supply – and companies and schools would have to improve ventilation systems and require wearing masks indoors at all times.
& # 39; It would affect our entire way of life. And that's why it's a very important question, ”said Dr. John Conly, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Calgary, who is part of the WHO expert group that provides advice on coronavirus guidelines.
Conly said the studies have so far shown no viable virus particles floating in the air.
"In my mind I want to see evidence in these fine mists," said Conly.
The latest WHO guidance document published on Thursday called for further investigations into the transmission of coronavirus aerosols that were "not detected".
The agency also reiterated a fixed limit on the size of infectious droplets emitted when coughing and sneezing, and found that most larger droplets are unlikely to migrate more than one meter (3.3 feet) – the basis of their guidelines for social distance of one meter.
Milton and others have said that larger particles spread much further.
Conly and others claim that if the virus were really like measles in the air, there would be many more cases.
“Wouldn't we see literally billions of cases worldwide? That is not the case, ”said Conly.
WHO spokeswoman, Dr. Margaret Harris, rejecting critics' claim that the agency was biased against the idea of aerosol transmission, said she recognized the possibility of airborne transmission during medical interventions from the outset in the pandemic.
Harris said it was "quite possible" that aerosolization was a factor in some so-called super-spreading events, in which one infected person infected many others in a confined space.
Many of these events occurred in places like night clubs, where people are crammed together and are unlikely to take care to protect themselves or others from infections.
"Most of the events that are spreading widely occur indoors with poor ventilation and overcrowding, where it is very difficult for people to distance themselves socially," said Harris.
For this reason, Harris said, the agency requested urgent studies to find out "what really happened in these clusters and what were the big factors."
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