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July 15, 2020

Turn off air conditioning to avoid coronavirus: experts

Top Story

July 15, 2020

LONDON: Air conditioning units that recirculate the same air in a room need to be either turned off or used with the windows open in order to stop airborne transmission of COVID-19, according to experts, foreign media reported.

British researchers say that those who use air conditioners that recirculate the same air are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19 if an infected person was in the same space.

According to the Telegraph, there are two types of air conditioners - ones that take in air from the outside and expel it out again and the ‘split unit’, which recirculates the same air.

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 the Chartered Institution of Building Service Engineers. Dr. Shaun Fitzgerald, a fellow at the Royal Academy of Engineering, said that opening a window while having the air conditioning turned on may be the best way to reduce the risk ‘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,’ Fitzgerald told the Telegraph. ‘If there is a modicum of wind it will move the air around. If you can’t open a window turn the unit off.’

Researchers in April blamed the air conditioning unit for the spread of coronavirus among at least nine other diners who were eating in a restaurant in Guangzhou, China, in January.

A research paper which appeared in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases investigated the incident at an eatery in Guangzhou in January, where a family had arrived from Wuhan - the city where the Covid-19 pandemic began. Researchers say one member of that family had an asymptomatic case, and barely two weeks later, the patient along with nine others, including members of their family, as well as two other groups on nearby tables in the restaurant, had all become ill with the virus.