A study by researchers at the University of Cambridge and Addenbrooke Hospital in the UK suggests that air filters can remove almost all traces of the novel coronavirus in the environment. This discovery could lead to improvements in the safety of the wards in the fight against COVID-19, as well as opening the possibility of setting standards for cleaner air and a reduced risk of internal transmission.
With the new wave of infections in the UK and the rest of Europe, the research findings also offer alternatives to hospital management in air quality monitoring. Air purification using portable equipment and ultraviolet sterilizers has been suggested as an effective way to prevent transmission of COVID-19 from patients to healthcare professionals on wards, according to a study published in the journal Clinical Infection Diseases.
Reducing airborne transmission of the coronavirus is extremely important to the safety of patients and staff, said Vilas Navaborlar, the intensive care medicine consultant who led the study. It’s important to do to further reduce the risk.”
The doctor also explained that due to the high number of patients admitted with the COVID-19 virus, many hospitals had to use non-designated wards to treat respiratory infections. In search of safer facilities, teams at Addenbrooke’s Hospital and Cambridge University tested the effectiveness of portable air purifiers in removing SARS-CoV-2 virus from the environment.
The team installed a high-efficiency filter and a device with thousands of fibers bound together to form a material that filters air particles. The machines were placed in fixed locations in the ward for seven days, filtering the entire volume of air in each room between 5 and 10 times per hour.
Scientists and engineers tested the collected samples using PCR assays. The team found that the devices not only reduced all traces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus when it was running, but also significantly reduced levels of bacteria, fungi and other bio-spray.
Andrew Morris, from the University of Cambridge’s Department of Medicine, says the effectiveness of air filters in removing virus particles represents a huge leap forward in epidemic control efforts. “Although it was only a small study, it highlights its potential to improve the safety of wards, particularly in areas not designed to deal with highly contagious diseases such as COVID-19,” he said.
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