ICUs without air-conditioning could shield doctors from Covid-19, study finds

0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
Oliver Berg/picture alliance via Getty Imag

Intensive care units (ICUs) at hospitals treating Covid-19 patients should do away with air-conditioning to limit the risk of infecting doctors, a study from a top Indian research institute has said.

Frontline health workers around the world have borne the brunt of the coronavirus crisis. More than 500 doctors have died from Covid-19 in India - the world's second-worst hit nation - as infections near 8 million, straining the country's weak and underfunded public health system.

"The recirculation of the air by the centralized air-conditioning systems is what has led to the significant infection of our committed medical fraternity and has also led to deaths of doctors and nurses," the study by the Indian Institute of Science in Bengaluru, considered one of the country's best science universities, said.

Reducing recirculation of air and increasing the use of outdoor air can lower the risk of spreading coronavirus in indoor spaces, the World Health Organisation has said.

Previous studies have suggested countries in hot climates should take care that indoor rooms are not dried out by overcooling with air conditioning, noting that keeping indoor humidity levels between 40% and 60% will help limit airborne transmission of the virus.

Where air-conditioning can be done away with, ICUs could be fitted with fans that force air inside, and exhaust fans to pull the infected air and treat it with soap-based air filters or very hot water before releasing it outside, the study added.

"(Covid-19) patients in the ICU are active sources of the virus, and they are constantly expelling particles," A.G. Ramakrishnan, the lead author of the study, told Reuters. "So, if you are not filtering the air, it is making things worse."

In ICUs where air-conditioning is necessary, the air conditioning system of the Covid-19 ICU can be de-linked from other ICUs and exhaust fans should be installed to pull any infected air for filtration, the study said.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Lockdown For
DAYS
HRS
MINS
Voting Booth
When assisting your child with remote learning this year, did you:
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Follow the school's comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curriculum?
13% - 367 votes
Adjust the CSE curriculum to suit the family's morals?
23% - 642 votes
Ignore the schools CSE programme and do your own teaching?
63% - 1723 votes
Vote
ZAR/USD
15.18
(+0.53)
ZAR/GBP
20.43
(+0.01)
ZAR/EUR
18.45
(+0.35)
ZAR/AUD
11.30
(+0.28)
ZAR/JPY
0.15
(+0.03)
Gold
1840.60
(+0.64)
Silver
24.12
(+0.49)
Platinum
1032.00
(+2.58)
Brent Crude
47.96
(+1.75)
Palladium
2310.00
(-3.44)
All Share
58947.48
(+1.14)
Top 40
54171.85
(+1.29)
Financial 15
11399.33
(+0.82)
Industrial 25
79681.43
(+0.78)
Resource 10
56621.26
(+2.07)
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes morningstar logo