Health experts stress the importance of keeping windows open and improving ventilation to curb COVID-19 spread

Paris, April 15 2021:  According to a group of health experts, there is mounting evidence that crowded and badly ventilated indoor spaces may be responsible for faster spread of the corona virus. Opening windows and ventilating spaces should be at the heart of efforts to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

According to authors Julian Tang and Linsey Marr, “People are much more likely to become infected in a room with windows that can’t be opened or lacking any ventilation system. Essentially, if you can inhale particles, regardless of size, you are breathing in aerosols. Although this can happen at long range, it is more likely when close to someone, as the aerosols between two people are much more concentrated at short range, rather like being close to someone who’s smoking.” They added that despite the logic, this simple measure is being overlooked.

However, the role of aerosol transmission gets only a passing mention in some infection control guidelines. At the beginning of the pandemic, health authorities, including the WHO, discounted the possibility that simply breathing could send infectious micro-droplets into the air. But they changed their stance as experts piled on pressure and evidence mounted.

In March, the WHO released a guidance document encouraging better ventilation in buildings. It said that while “knowledge gaps” remain, transmission of the virus that causes Covid-19 is particularly effective in crowded, confined indoor spaces where there is poor or no ventilation.

The study stressed that a crucial difference was “the need for added emphasis on ventilation because the tiniest suspended particles can remain airborne for hours, and these constitute an important route of transmission”.

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