For months, researchers all over the world have been investigating how COVID-19 spreads indoors. To bring the pandemic under control, it’s essential to find ways of reducing indoor transmission. Now, a top group of German scientists have issued guidelines that could reduce the presence of the virus in the air by up to 90 percent. Here’s what you need to know about these guidelines to help keep yourself safe from COVID-19.
What Are the New Guidelines?
The scientists researching how COVID-19 spreads indoors identified six specific recommendations for cutting down on transmission. While each method offers some protection on its own, the research group recommended that they be used in conjunction for maximum benefit.
Use of N95 Masks
While ordinary masks have been recommended throughout the pandemic as an affordable and widely available way of preventing viral spread, the authors of the new German guidelines stress the superior performance of N95 masks. These masks have become gradually more available over the last several months, making it more reasonable for a larger section of the population to use them.
Ample Ventilation With Windows
Where weather conditions permit, the guidelines recommend leaving windows open to increase the flow of fresh air. Window ventilation can prevent viruses from building up in stagnant air, thus reducing the chances of indoor spread.
While window ventilation is inexpensive and widely available, the researchers strongly recommended the use of overhead exhaust fans in rooms where people are apt to gather. Exhaust systems can play a critical role in keeping public facilities at minimum risk. It’s also important that these systems be coupled with filtration if the air is being recirculated within the same building, rather than vented to the outside.
Unsurprisingly, air purifiers made the list of recommended methods for reducing indoor transmission. Thanks to the ability of HEPA filters to capture virus-sized particles, most home air purifiers have at least some ability to trap the virus that causes COVID-19. When used in homes, offices and other enclosed spaces, even portable HEPA air purifiers offer an extra layer of protection against viral transmission. To learn more, check out our blog post about the best air purifiers for coronavirus, where we list several of our top recommended units.
Reduced Use of Circulating Fans
Although exhaust fans can be instrumental in reducing transmission, ceiling and floor fans are believed to have the opposite effect. By circulating the air inside of a room, these fans could allow viruses to remain suspended in the air longer than they otherwise would. As a result, the researchers recommend against the use of fans that don’t actively pull air out of the space they’re used in.
Although a vaccine is now being distributed, it’s still extremely important to use other approaches to keep COVID-19 spread at a minimum this winter. Based on current projections, it could be spring or even early summer before mass vaccination can significantly rein in the pandemic. Taking steps to improve indoor air quality and prevent viral buildup in indoor air may be the most effective way to limit the spread until vaccines before more widely available.