Lockdown measures are beginning to ease across the UK, but doctors have warned that ventilation in hospitality settings such as pubs and restaurants must be improved in order to prevent another rise in Covid cases.
Although pubs, restaurants and cafes in England have now opened outside, the British Medical Association (BMA) has said that hospitality, workplaces and other public settings need to be given guidance in regards to ventilation when they reopen indoors.
‘It is vital that measures are taken to ensure adequate ventilation’
In a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), researchers from the University of Leicester, the University of Hong Kong, Edinburgh Napier University and Virginia Tech in the US, said that the “tiniest suspended particles can remain airborne for hours”.
“People are much more likely to become infected in a room with windows that can’t be opened or lacking any ventilation system,” added the researchers.
“It is now clear that Sars-CoV-2 transmits mostly between people at close range through inhalation.”
The authors of the study urged both governments and health leaders to “focus their efforts on airborne transmission”.
Addressing Covid and ventilation, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chairman of council at the BMA, said that the study published in the BMJ illustrated how “crucial” clean airflow is.
“There has been much discussion by the Government and in the media about ‘hands, face and space’ but much less about the critical importance of fresh air and throughflow in buildings and on public transport,” Dr Nagpaul said.
He added: “As restrictions are eased, and there is greater mixing between people in enclosed spaces, it is vital that measures are taken to ensure adequate ventilation.
“This should include explicit specifications on ventilation requirements in public and work settings, including in the hospitality sector such as restaurants, bars and pubs.”
Dr Nagpaul said that “a failure to ensure adequate levels of ventilation in indoor areas runs the serious risk of a rebound increase in Covid-19 infections,” and that the public “need to know they are as safe as they can be” when they return to indoor public settings.