In order to avoid any kind of transmission of the novel Coronavirus through air conditioners, the Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE) has released some guidelines for household as well as public sector outlets.
Coronavirus outbreak: Bright scorching summers are back and we know that the use of air conditioners will begin! In order to avoid any kind of transmission of the novel Coronavirus through air conditioners, the Indian Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air Conditioning Engineers (ISHRAE) has released some guidelines for household as well as public sector outlets. The guidelines highlighted that all the rooms and offices that have provision for air conditioning need to be well-ventilated and humidified. The recommendations have been drafted after a case in China was studied where 9 people had contracted COVID-19 infection. The reason for transmission from an infected person has been attributed to the air current within a closed space.
For room air conditioners, the guidelines state that the room temperature should be between 24°C and 30°C. It has also asked to maintain relative humidity between 40 per cent and 70 per cent. It also suggested that the temperature should be set at 24°C in humid climates for dehumidification and closer to or at 30°C in dry climates. Fans can also be used to increase air movement. If the climate is dry, the guidelines said that Relative Humidity should not be allowed to fall below 40 per cent. It has also been suggested to ensure fresh air circulation by activating the exhausts or keeping the windows open.
If evaporative coolers are used, it must draw air from outside so there is good ventilation. These coolers at all times should be cleansed and disinfected on a regular basis. Windows should be open so humid air is released. Apart from this, the report said that one should not use portable evaporative coolers that do not draw air from the outside as their cooling decreases with increase in humidity. For usage of fans, they should be operated with keeping the windows partially open. Exhaust fans, on the other hand, should be kept running for better ventilation.
It is to note that Dr Aparna Agarwal, Director, Professor at LHMC, has previously said in an interview on DD that windows ACs can be used by households with no problem. But COVID-19 transmission is likely at big establishments who use centralised air conditioning. According to her, apart from bigger establishments, even in hospitals where the air conditioner is centralised. In such a case, if there is any Coronavirus positive patient, other non-infected are also at transmission risk due to the air flow. While some guidelines on maintaining humidity/ temperature have been proposed to avoid any risk, the World Health Organisation believes it yet to be seen whether the temperature has a direct relationship with Coronavirus growth.