One of the key ways of helping to reduce Covid-19, including the Omicron variant, spreading in our communities, schools and workplaces is to make sure they are well ventilated.
Covid-19 is an airborne disease, which means it is spread through the air, especially in indoor spaces. When infected people breathe out, tiny Covid-19 particles remain suspended in the air. In an indoor environment, this build-up of Covid-19 particles plays a huge part in spreading the virus to others.
Someone may catch Covid-19 when stood close to an infected person, but as time indoors increases, infections can also occur in shared rooms, despite social distancing. Ventilation is the process of introducing fresh air into indoor spaces. This removes stale air and prevents the virus hanging in the air and infecting other people.
Research shows that being in a room with fresh air can reduce the risk of infection of Covid-19 from particles by over 70%.
When seeing people from outside of your household, take simple steps to improve ventilation when indoors, including opening doors and windows to let fresh air in. Opening windows regularly for just 10 minutes, or a small amount continuously, can still reduce the airborne risk from Covid-19 substantially compared to spaces with no fresh air.
Professor Trudi Grant, Director of Public Health for Somerset County Council, said:
“With cases on the rise in Somerset, it remains vital that everyone continues to take sensible precautions to help stop the spread of the virus. Ventilation to provide fresh air in enclosed spaces is one of the most important actions to help stop the spread of Coronavirus in our communities. Of course, we should all continue to take other actions such as regular hand washing and wearing face coverings in crowded and enclosed spaces. As the weather gets colder, it might be tempting to keep your windows and doors closed, but by opening them regularly for just 10 minutes, or a small amount continuously, when seeing people from outside of your household, you will help to reduce the airborne risk from Covid substantially and protect your friends and family from infection.
“Alongside these measures, the vaccination remains the best form of defence that we have against Covid-19, and I would urge anyone who has not already done so to book their jab and help play their part to stop the spread of the virus.”
Research clearly shows that the risk of infection drops significantly when people use face masks, shorten the length of contact, and ventilate spaces when meeting up with others.
It is recommended that businesses and organisations also take steps to ensure there is appropriate ventilation. Open doors and windows whenever possible, limit using spaces which aren’t adequately ventilated and limit the time you spend with people indoors.
To increase the flow of air:
- Open windows as much as possible
- Open doors
- Make sure that any vents (for example, at the top of a window) are open and airflow is not blocked
- Leave extractor fans (for example, in bathrooms) running for longer than usual with the door closed after someone has used the room.
To ensure good air ventilation doesn’t lead to people getting cold:
- Encourage everyone to wear warmer clothes or layers
- If windows have openings at both high and low levels (such as sash windows) using just the top opening can help avoid cold draughts
- If you’re concerned about noise, security, or the costs of heating, opening windows for shorter periods of time can still help to reduce the risk of the virus spreading
- For more advice on how to stay well this winter, visit 10 top tips to stay well this winter | Somerset County Council Newsroom (somersetnewsroom.com)
Where possible avoid using fans. They are likely to add to the risk of the virus being spread. Room or desk fans don’t introduce fresh air, they just move it around. The key is to let fresh air in to dilute the virus concentration in the room.
For more information on how ventilation can help the spread of covid-19, visit: Ventilation of indoor spaces to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)