Turn air conditioners OFF or crack a window to reduce risk of coronavirus spread, experts say

Air conditioning should be switched off as it could recirculate the same air in a closed space and expose people to a risk of catching coronavirus, experts warn.

Air conditioning units are normally put into two categories – the ones that take outside air and dispose of it and the ‘split units’, which reuse the same air, Shaun Fitzgerald, a fellow at the Royal Academy of Engineering, shared with The Telegraph.

A paper by the Chartered Institution of Building Service Engineers also stressed that air conditioning units that do not have a

“dedicated source of outside air supply into a room… could be responsible for recirculating and spreading airborne viral particles into the path of socially distanced users”.

According to Fitzgerald, opening a window while having the air conditioning on could even be the safest option.

“The recommended strategy now, if you have one of these split units, is to throw the window open and sacrifice your desire for a cold or cooler environment,” he said.

“If there is a modicum of wind, it will move the air around. If you can’t open a window, turn the unit off.”

Furthermore, last month, a mechanical engineering professor at Purdue University named Qingyan Chen, had detailed exactly what happened on the Diamond Princess cruise ship, where 700 out of 3,000 people were caught by the virus.

“After quarantine, many people still got sick on the ship and I suspect that the air conditioning system could [have] played a role there,” he told Business Insider.

“Air conditioners will take air and re-circulate it through the room, and it’s through that mechanism that these coronavirus droplets can be transmitted.”

A large study that raised concerns regarding the use of air-conditioning in the midst of the crisis was made public on April 2 about a restaurant in China.

Experts were able to link 9 infections in Guangzhou to one 63-year-old woman, and most of the people involved did not have any direct contact with her but were seated on nearby tables.

The report suggests that air-conditioning can greatly aid the spread of the coronavirus, but because the microdroplets did not seem to blow far, in a restaurant with 83 customers, just 10 of them were infected.

Hence, they came to the conclusion, that the air conditioner was probably spreading the virus between the affected tables.

A fresh study by the University of Oregon and the University of California discovered that the most efficient way to ensure ventilation limiting the spread of coronavirus is to simply open a window.

But experts are divided on whether the virus can be spread through floating air droplets, even though the WHO recently conceded that it was possible.

The number of recorded coronavirus cases worldwide is now over 13 million, with more than 570,000 losses of life.

For WWLTV’s report on the topic, please see the video below. 

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