Of Air conditioned spaces and Covid-19 spread.
Corona Virus disease or Covid-19 is an infection that is new to medicine. It has scaled to pandemic level. Although it is generally agreed that Coronavirus-19 is an infectious disease transmittable through infected air/droplets from sneezes, coughs and forceful talks and from contact with infected surfaces.
Its newness on the scene makes the approach at confronting it to be dynamic, diverse and different from place to place. Also, there are different approaches to medications and treatments by various treatment experts. While some Governments would address the pandemic in their area by declaring total restriction or lockdown of her citizens to their homes, others would differ and declare partial lockdown of citizens to their homes during specific times of the day; as in curfew.
The general conventions for tackling Covid-19 have therefore been frequent hygienic hand washing, physical distancing, masking in crowded public spaces, medical testing, self isolation and quarantine for treatment.
Despite various efforts to contain this pandemic virus across the world and particularly in Nigeria, continued testing have revealed that the more number of persons that are tested the more the increase infections that are detected.
Owing to the uncertainty of the time when statistical curve of the virus would flatten, owners of places such as Schools, Mosques, Churches, Event Centers, manufacturing companies that were closed down by Government authorities since February have expressed eagerness to reopen to their students, members and clients. They have been mounting pressure on the authorities to lift ban on their closures. It’s now June and Government is earnestly considering acceding to these groups’ request.
But, before Government accede to the requests, it’s important to locate and prevent things that could heighten transmission of the disease within our cultural setting. The world; often described as a global village, is culturally diverse. Culture is the sum total of our belief system, attitude, behavior and enduring lifestyles, all of which have impact on our health and illnesses.
This brings us to the need to think, identify and observe things that could either heighten transmission of Covid-19 or increase the number of infected persons ahead of reopening and thereafter caution lifestyles that could be inimical to eradication of the disease.
Although new corona virus called Covid-19 keeps mutating, hence new approaches to curbing it keep emerging. I classify existing approaches under outdoor; a group of approaches that appear incomplete to tackle the virus’ transmission. The gap is in indoor approach which should complement existing outdoor approaches to tackle emerging dynamics of Covid-19 transmission.
Air route constitutes more than 80% of the effective routes of transmitting the Covid-19 germs; other route is through infected material surfaces. The lesson here is that we need to identify all loose ends, tie all knots and screw all bolts within our hot climate and associated cultural lifestyle. Due to our desire to temper inclement hot weather in our living, we often struggle to cool our living space. In order to enable effective cooling, we use air condition during which cross ventilation is restricted, a pervading lifestyle or developing culture in hot climates.
The pervading air conditioning of homes and work places is highly favorable to the stability, detention and concentration of the virus in such homes and work places. And should a single healthy carrier of the disease have occasion to stay for a few minutes in such home as a neighbor or visitor; or work space; as a client or worker, the healthy carrier innocently could spray millions of the virus through single talk, cough, belch or sneeze for inhalation by healthy and unhealthy occupants more so that the space has been closed to cross ventilation that could blow away the concentrating and circulating germs.
Now, imagine diverse social background of such inhalers of concentrated and circulating viruses in air conditioned places such as Banks, Schools’ laboratories, Worship centers and offices. Imagine doctors and nurses adequately masked in fully air conditioned treatment centers and the millions of molecules of Covid-19 viruses exhaled by inpatients and which are concentrating and circulating within the treatment wards without being blown out. Imagine the possibility of these virus molecules being trapped inside the doctors and nurses masks because the use of air condition had detained the escape of the concentrated molecules from the ward space.
Imagine a healthy carrier of the disease, worker or client, stayed in an air conditioned indoor company of about 200 or more staff members as happened recently somewhere in the Oyo State, imagine the rapidity of the spread at- a-go among these staff members.
Few years ago, there was a report, real but sad story of a Company Manager elsewhere that gradually turned ill of tuberculosis via air droplets infection. The transmission of the infection to the said company manager was later traced to his official driver. The driver had always carried his Manager and rode together in a constantly air conditioned official car.
The aforementioned imaginations and real story could be further illustrated by a compare of the persistence of air fouled in an air conditioned indoor with same at cross ventilated indoor. Air droplets of unseen Covid-19 germs could be inhaled with similar tenacity. Face masks are only useful more at cross ventilated and open places than elsewhere.
With all these tough imaginations, I submit that apart from cultural practices of hugging and hand shaking and other violations of health advice that promote the transmission of Covid-19, the use of air condition have in part, contributed to the transmission and significant spread of the pandemic in hot regions of the world such as Nigeria and Saudi.
Therefore, use of air fans or other dynamics along with cross ventilation that would disperse away fast the in and out breathings of occupants of indoor spaces of homes, work places, moving vehicles are strongly recommended for Governments, work places, schools and homes to consider during this Covid-19 period.
Besides, the useful role of hot water bottle and steam inhalation respectively in the past in the treatment of lung ailments such as lobar pneumonia and flue cannot be overemphasized. It’s scary to hear of elites in special facilities where luxury of air condition avail during care. Heat degrades Covid-19.
In conclusion, while the efforts of various Governments are appreciated, the challenge of taking test for Covid-19 to staff members of few randomly selected air conditioned Banks and Departmental Stores to ascertain the aforementioned dangers should be taken up by various Covid-19 testing officials. Governments should strongly persuade, all Banks, public offices, Schools, worship centers etc. that in addition to observance of Covid-19 prevention protocols, they should suspend the use of air conditions for the time being and to use suitable numbers of air fans or related dynamics that would effectively disperse fast, possible Covid-19 molecules hanging in air at indoors, houses or closed tents of public places. Also, because of the nature of Covid-19 to attach themselves for some period to material surfaces where individuals could be infected, Covid-19 viruses should be controlled at the point of banks where banking halls are decontaminated at each day’s close of work and monies to be circulated should be fumigated with suitable disinfectants or with ultraviolet light at least 3hrs before dispensing them from their currency vaults.
By: Saadu Adebayo. RN. MPH.