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Australia recognises Covid as airborne: Will the UK be next?

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With news from Australia that the infection of a Perth hotel security guard, who was working three metres away from a quarantined international traveller, was due to the Coronavirus being airborne, it’s time for the UK government to recognise the importance of ventilation and powerful ultraviolet and HEPA filters in the fight against COVID-19.

This conclusion reached on the other side of the world backs my claim that the UK’s nationwide introduction of a ten-day hotel quarantine for incoming travellers could accelerate the spread of new mutations of the coronavirus if the engineering infection controls aren’t right.

Despite Australia’s world-renowned restrictions on travellers and entrants to the country, the incident at the Sheraton Hotel, Western Australia, has shocked many in charge of its policies and public health. Despite Australian hotels utilising mostly pure fresh air ventilation systems, the security guard still caught Covid from across the corridor, which also highlights that even when what is perceived to be adequate fresh air ventilation being in place, air changes alone are not adequate. The whole environment must be examined.

Our team recommends a blend of Infection Control Engineering solutions to address the risks present in any indoor space, giving greater consideration to improved filtration, flow rates, air distribution and, most importantly, germicidal ultraviolet filters which inactivate all bacteria and viruses, including COVID-19.

The concern with the current UK hotel quarantine is that many buildings are simply not designed or fully equipped to deal with these sorts of airborne viruses. These locations will find themselves having to deal with these new pathogens with extremely high transmissibility of the type from Brazil, South Africa and other new variants as they occur.

Far from keeping the virus under control, this action could lead to superspreading of new variants if the airborne virus is drawn through the ducts and distributed into other rooms, or common spaces such as corridors or reception areas; or in this case, opening and closing of doors is more likely to be the infection spreading air from a contaminated space into an inert space and also, corridors and other common parts are often underprovided in terms of high quality air distribution throughout.

As they have seen in Australia, healthy travellers or staff could be unwittingly infected by people who are located many rooms away, and as a result, could be at risk of becoming seriously ill or worse by following the requirements and through no fault of their own.

Installing Germicidal UV Filters inside HVAC duct systems or high up on walls as safe upper room emitters has proved to be extremely effective in rapidly inactivating and destroying airborne bacteria, and coronaviruses, including COVID-19.

This technology has been used for over a century as a means of destroying harmful pathogens, including this coronavirus.

Blog by: Dr Rhys Thomas, chief medical and scientific officer at PP-L

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