DOH: Use open-air spaces in activities, ensure proper ventilation to reduce COVID-19 risk
MANILA, Philippines — Although health experts are still studying whether airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, is possible, the Department of Health (DOH) is advising the public to conduct activities in open-air spaces, install exhaust fans in comfort rooms and avoid using recirculated air option for vehicles to reduce the risk of contracting the disease.
In an online media briefing Monday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH has issued Department Memorandum 2020-0429, which provides administrative and engineering measures to improve ventilation and air quality in enclosed areas.
The DOH said “open-air spaces should be prioritized” in choosing where to conduct activities.
“When an activity cannot be moved into an open-air setting, opening windows and doors should be put into practice to facilitate the flow of outdoor air into the space, when possible,” the agency said.
“However, ensure that opened windows/doors are not near sources of air pollution such as carbon monoxide, sulfur/nitrous oxide and particulate matter usually coming from internal combustion engines and other sources of pollution,” it added.
The DOH also noted that individuals should not be situated directly in the flow of air coming from fans and air-conditioning units as these may facilitate the transmission of the virus by directing air from infected individuals to others in the room
Exhaust ventilation should likewise provide the needed air exchange rate.
“Common signs of poor air exchange include inadequate temperature, increased humidity, poor air movement and other ventilation-related problems,” the DOH said.
It added that device settings that encourage recirculated air when no ventilation takes place should be avoided as much as possible.
“If this is not possible, air cleaning and disinfection procedures may also be used. In non-hospital settings where ventilation is greatly recirculated or access to outside air is not feasible, filters such as high-efficiency particulate air filtration air purifiers can be used to clean recirculated air provided that the unit is adequate for the size of the room in which it is installed in,” it said.
The Health Department further suggested the installation of exhaust fans in comfort rooms, especially the communal ones.
Closing the toilet seat lid while flushing is also advisable to “minimize the release of droplets into air flows after flushing,” the DOH memorandum stated.
For vehicles, the department recommended natural ventilation and access to open air .
“Avoid using the recirculated air option for the car’s ventilation during passenger transport. Utilize the car’s vents to bring in fresh outside air and/or lower the vehicle windows,” the DOH said.
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