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Coronavirus : Are you safe inside Air-Conditioned area during COVID-19 pandemic?



   Air-Conditioned area may be a cause of " Coronavirus Infection"  

Are you safe inside the Air-conditioned ( AC ) area or Centrally Air-conditioned ( AC ) area or in your AC your room? This is a new find out which recently highlighted, which you should know. Wheather Is there any chance of " coronavirus infection " when you are inside any MALL, or while working in your centrally Air-conditioned office or your AC room? We all know that this coronavirus is a highly contagious respiratory virus and is easily transmitted from person to person, through breath, saliva, sneezing, droplets, and so on. Medical research is going on to find out the vaccine, that might help to treat COVID-19, the pneumonia-like disease triggered by the coronavirus. However, as per recommendations by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, protecting yourself and those around you, who have less immune systems and the elderly, are the only best practices in this coronavirus pandemic time, when there's no pill or vaccine, which you can take to keep you safe from coronavirus, or stop the spreading if you're asymptomatic.

Since lockdown, till the time we are maintaining the best strategies to protect us from this disease which you already know: yes, maintaining social distancing, keeping distance from others as much as possible. Wearing a face mask and keeping a minimum six feet distance from others when you go out. 

Why Air-conditioned room or any Centrally Air-conditioned location like Mall, Restaurant, Offices may not be safe for you? 

Post lockdown, now restrictions are getting withdrawn and cities  reopening offices , restaurants, malls, hair salons, and the gym. As a suggestion don’t give loos in your guard, which you have already suggested, practised during this lockdown.

As per latest update onCOVID-19 count, confirmed cases around the world over 5 million, and over 347,000 deaths linked to the coronavirus pandemic. As per the warning of the medical board that a second wave of infections is possible as cities reopen and people can come into closer contact once again, World Health Organisation ( WHO ) also confirmed that we may have to continue with coronavirus, as it may not go away.

As per WHO, it's reported that the pandemic will be ongoing and could be with us till the time vaccine becomes readily available or people gain herd immunity, so that it can help you to protect from could get you and others sickness.  Now recently another concern reported on the behaviour of coronavirus spread, which may be more dangerous and fatal if you do not take prevention, and is now more important when offices , restaurants, office cafeterias are getting reopened.

When you are in-home or in-office, are you safe? If you are thinking that inside home closing all windows, door you are safe, you are mistaken. Air conditioners increase the risk of coronavirus inside homes and offices.  

According to experts, home AC units do not have any risk of Covid-19 infection, especially at the time when people are isolated inside their homes with no outside contact, means total isolation. However, coronavirus can spread within spaces that are blocked and centrally air-conditioned — such as shopping malls and some modern apartments, especially if an infected person is inside such spaces.

As per the epidemiologist at the Indian Institute of  Technology, Bombay, express that “This virus is not airborne in the same way as viruses that cause common cold and flu. It is just that if a person sneezes, a thick spray gets created — that is when a virus is in the air. But it does not float around in the airit settles on the surfaces and can stay there for a very long time,”  

The report also warned that, “ in places like centrally air-conditioned, Central offices, shopping centres, where no air circulation etc, and  where there are usually a lot of people gathering, the virus can get recycled in the air for a short span of time,” he warned.

In this time of pandemic, our PM, Narendra Modi government has ordered people to stay away from crowded places as they can come in contact with someone infected. However , If people visit a centrally air-conditioned mall, continue in the office ( mostly those offices having centrally AC and no cross air circulation, having artificial ventilation ) during a pandemic, the risk of people getting exposed to the coronavirus directly from an infected person. To be safe from coronavirus your home should enough cross air circulation through window, doors etc. 

The offices, malls, having central AC, with people gathering should be avoided to be safe from coronavirus infection. People should be aware of this and take the protection accordingly, because post lockdown people may forget the seriousness of protection and start doing the mistake. One thing is very clear that you are stepping inside a risky place like offices (Centrally AC, or closed room with multiple people), Mall, restaurant, where you can get infected. 


 What research says about SARS Coronavirus?

 “” This is a respiratory infection, the main route of transmission of SARS CoV infection is presumed to be respiratory droplets. However, the report says that the virus is detectable in other body fluids and excreta. Also found in the study that, the stability of the virus at different temperatures and relative humidity on smooth surfaces. 
The dry virus on smooth surfaces sustain for over Five days at temperatures of 22–25°C and relative humidity of 40–50%, that is, typical air-conditioned environments. However, virus capability rapidly lost (>3 log10) at higher temperatures and higher relative humidity (e.g., 38°C, and relative humidity of >95%). 
In air-conditioned environments, low temperature and low humidity environment facilitate the transmission of SARS Coronavirus and its get better stability. It also expressed that some Asian countries in tropical area (such as Malaysia, Indonesia or Thailand) with high temperature and high relative humidity environment did not have major community outbreaks of SARS.”  


As per The newsletter/ weekly report published by Centres of Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC), Worldwide each year an estimated 30 million passengers are transported on cruise ships. Widespread COVID-19 transmission on cruise ships has been reported, Passengers on certain cruise ship voyages approx aged ≥65 years, which places them at greater risk for severe consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection. During February–March 2020, COVID-19 outbreaks associated with three cruise ship voyages have caused more than 800 laboratory-confirmed cases among passengers and crew, including 10 deaths. Transmission occurred across multiple voyages of several ships. This report describes public health responses to COVID-19 outbreaks on these ships. COVID-19 on cruise ships poses a risk for the rapid spread of disease, causing outbreaks in a vulnerable population, and aggressive efforts are required to contain the spread. 

Cruise ships are often setting for the outbreak of infectious diseases because of their closed environment and contact between travellers from many locations & countries. 

Reference Report: Read Public Health Responses to COVID-19 Outbreaks on Cruise Ships — Worldwide, February–March 2020


Writing this article for public awareness and to prevent the increasing count of COVID-19 infection and crisis. References given as a supporting of the concern raised.
Stay Home Stay Safe 
Lockdown withdrawing does not mean that Coronavirus infection also vanishing. Before taking this situation lightly go through the above report and understand the risk of it,  while you visiting any MALL, AC offices, etc.. And the same would be true for air conditioning systems in flights, AC train also.
Wear Mask when you outside, keep your guard ON 
Wearing, Mask, washing hands, using sanitizer and maintaining social distance can save you but when you will be visiting those places ( under central AC condition, covered area ), any single mistake may be risky for you.  So Keep your protection always ON to avoid coronavirus infection while you will be visiting such places.

References:
1. Reference Newsletter " The Effects of Temperature and Relative Humidity on the Viability of the SARS Coronavirus" https://www.hindawi.com/journals/av/2011/734690/
2. Reference Report of CDC  Read Public Health Responses to COVID-19 Outbreaks on Cruise Ships — Worldwide, February–March 2020/ https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e3.htm?s_cid=mm6912e3_w
3. Coronavirus ‘May Never Go Away,’ a Top W.H.O. Official Warns: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/13/world/coronavirus-world-news-updates.html?campaign_id=51&emc=edit_MBE_p_20200514&instance_id=18461&nl=morning-briefing&regi_id=88631294&searchResultPosition=5&section=topNews&segment_id=27736&te=1&user_id=d8eb7cee9d3c5ab39515239b6ec54d19#link-5459755e


Photo by Adolfo Félix 
Photo by Corina Rainer
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