Hospitals are there to help sick people get better, but they can also pose a risk of infection. During the pandemic, many health care workers have taken COVID19 from patients they have been treating. Patients without COVID19 have also contracted the virus while in the hospital.
In non-pandemic times, patients with highly contagious respiratory infections are treated in specialized isolation facilities. These are single-person rooms with improved ventilation to prevent infectious particles from accumulating and spreading. But during the pandemic, the number of patients hospitalized with COVID19 has often surpassed these isolation units.
Improving air quality in these areas can play an important role in reducing these diseases. However, this will require monitoring the air for microbes and setting standards that specifically focus on microbes.
The main benefit of air filtration is aerosol extraction
One of the main routes of transmission of viruses and bacteria are aerosols expelled when speaking, coughing, or sneezing. In this regard, a team of researchers from the University of Cambridge deployed air-cleaning units that filter the air from makeshift rooms through very fine filters, in an attempt to remove persistent aerosols containing the coronavirus.
Before the installation of the filters, the team of researchers made measurements that determined the presence of coronavirus for several successive days. Surprisingly, a week after the installation of the filters, the coronavirus could no longer be detected in the analyses.
"Then, with the filter turned off again in the third week, the virus was detected again. In addition to eliminating the coronavirus, we discovered that the Hepa filters also substantially reduced the number of other bacteria, viruses, and fungi in the air, which can also contribute to the infection, "the researchers explain.
Good air quality should be the goal
According to experts, "finding coronavirus in the air suggests that aerosols are an important route for the transmission of COVID19 in hospitals. Because aerosols do not fall out of the air quickly, they can accumulate in the rooms, so effective ventilation is key to their cleanliness".
In that sense, there is still a lot of work to be done in hospitals where the COVID19 cases are still on the rise. Although many medical centers already have adequate ventilation mechanisms to deal with this problem, many others still need to implement filters that guarantee good air quality.
Thanks to the new studies, the goal of achieving good air quality in hospitals seems closer. In addition to constant monitoring, the preservation of clean air has new and better tools, which are vital to the progress achieved in this area.