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Study Shows Air Conditioners Can Spread Coronavirus

Open your windows instead.
by Clifford Olanday
Apr 23, 2020
Photo/s: Unsplash
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In an early release article from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), researchers associated air conditioning with the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

According to the study, nine people from three families were infected by one person in an air-conditioned restaurant in Guangzhou, China. The infected diner and his family were seated in a table in between two other families. An air-conditioning unit situated at one end of the line of tables blew air toward the three family clusters as well as circulated air in the windowless room.

“We conclude that in this outbreak, droplet transmission was prompted by air-conditioned ventilation. The key factor for infection was the direction of the airflow,” said the study, which will be finalized and published in the July 2020 volume of Emerging Infectious Diseases journal.

In an article by Forbes, experts have now advised against the use of air conditioners, including central air conditioning systems, as they can be pathways of viral particles.

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According to a study by researchers from the University of Oregon and University of California-Dav, “[h]igher outside air fractions and higher air exchange rates in buildings may help to dilute the indoor contaminants, including viral particles...” The report further suggests the opening of windows to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Qingyan Chen, another expert who spoke to Forbes, shares a similar view. “My advice: Supply households with 100% outside air, do not use recirculated air,” said Chen, James. G. Dwyer Professor of Mechanical Engineering at Purdue University. The professor also suggests staying away from the air conditioning exhaust and using gloves to handle its filter (or avoiding it entirely in the meantime).

However, while researchers have cautioned against air conditioners, the CDCP study notes how 73 diners and eight employees, who were also present in the Guangzhou restaurant, were not infected by coronavirus.

Yesterday, Metro Manila recorded 42 degrees Celsius, a new peak for the heat index of 2020. According to PAGASA, temperatures may still climb in the coming days.

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