As hotels became an important part of society during the COVID-19 pandemic. They served as a two-week quarantine facility of most cities for their incoming guests, travelers, and other suspected individuals. The protocol aims to stop an infected patient from going out and further spreading the virus within the city. However, there has been a recorded rise of infected patients from a hotel quarantine in Australia. Authorities, later on, have identified that the chain of transmission is through the air. It is known that hotel rooms often have shared ventilation. This has opened multiple concerns if hotel ventilation is really safe for quarantine.
Having an incident like this in a space where the virus is expected to be contained, health agencies are now looking at the loopholes of the protocol and making adjustments. Hotels that serve as quarantine facilities are now required to rectify their HVAC systems. One of these rectifications is installing a recommended filter and air filter sensors for constant air quality monitoring. This requirement alone could lower the risk of spreading the virus through air ventilation.
How Ventilation Played in Spreading the Virus?
Located in Melbourne, the Holiday Inn outbreak suspected that the transmission of cases started in a nebulizer. A nebulizer is a device that turns liquid medication into a mist and is inhaled. The outbreak reached about eight cases from different people not related to each other. These people are occupying the same floor in the hotel. According to Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews, they checked the camera footage. And, there are no quarantine protocol breaches.
According to Professor Sutton, “If that’s breathed in, especially when it’s used as medication, and someone is infectious or later tests positive, then that picks up the virus, and that mist can then be suspended in the air with very, very fine, aerosolized particles.”
It was certain that ventilation played in the spreading of the virus. The aerosolized virus is sitting in the air and can spread out into the corridor at any given time. The Coronavirus is an airborne disease that can be suspended in the air and spread out to anyone that could breathe it in. The recurring episodes of infections in hotel quarantines only question the safety of people in indoor environments. And highlighted that the ventilation system in a hotel quarantine facility has not been adequately addressed.
How is Air Escapes Rooms?
Professor Jason Monty studied the ventilation systems in buildings. Then further includes how COVID-19 could spread through the air in an indoor environment. Professor Monty uses smoke and watches for where it escapes and how quickly.
He said, “We’ve seen air moving through ceiling panels, through light fixtures on the roof, and moving from one room to another through any gap it can find, including through the door frame. We’re seeing a lot more air going through the hallway than we would have expected, even before the door is opened.”
How Long Does Infectious Particles Stay in a Room Once Generated?
Depending on the size. The large particles, contaminants, and airborne viruses will settle on surfaces at very little time. However, smaller particles can stay suspended in the air for a longer time as it is lighter and easier to float around.
The Coronavirus can spread rapidly indoors than outdoors. The indoor environment has more concentrated viral particles. While the outdoor environment has many factors that could mess up viral particles’ concentration, such as light and wind. In an indoor environment, it is crucial to mitigate the concentration level of the viral particles. Lower viral particles can reduce the likelihood of virus transmission. It can lower the inhaled dose or fall out of the air and stay on surfaces. Thus, authorities must ensure to lessen the viral concentration, especially in hotel quarantine.
Are Filters Effective Against COVID-19 Virus?
The Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) states on its website that HVAC filters can capture Coronavirus particles. EPA is America’s environmental regulator.
“When used properly, HVAC filters can help reduce airborne contaminants including viruses in a building or small space,” the EPA said.
These filters are designed to separate pollutants, including airborne viruses, out of the air that passes thru them. A HEPA air filter should remove 99.9% of particles as small as 0.3μ.
Can An Air Filter Eliminate the Threat of COVID Virus?
According to Professor Monty, a simple air purifier can be an inexpensive solution for the threat of Coronavirus in an indoor setting.
One of the recommended air filters is something that costs around $800. It is a rather cheap option in the market. But, Professor Monty can attest to the ability of this product. It can clear the air in an enclosed room in under 10 minutes. In comparison, the standard Air Conditioning system takes more than an hour to clear the air.
“You can never eliminate the risk, but we should be doing whatever we can right now to mitigate the risk of airborne transmission of COVID-19 in these hotels,” Professor Monty said.
Is Air Filter Enough to Eliminate COVID-19 Threat?
EPA stressed out that filters alone are not enough to fully protect people from getting infected by a coronavirus. Air cleaners and HVAC filters can help reduce the concentration level of viruses in an indoor environment. It can drastically improve the quality of indoor air. It can increase the delivery of clean air and dilute potential contaminants.
According to Professor Shelly Miller of the University of Colorado Boulder, “Once the virus escapes into the air inside a building, you have two options: bring in fresh air from outside or remove the virus from the air inside the building.” She also added, “The first thing to consider is how effective an air handling unit filter is. Your best option is a cleaner that uses a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, as these remove more than 99.97 percent of all particle sizes.”
A HEPA filter is the best at removing or “scrubbing”, viruses or bacteria from the air. A HEPA filter works by pulling things out of the air and holding on to them. The trapped particles are as small as .01 micron in diameter. HEPA filter trapped it so it cannot be recirculated. The HEPA filter can remove viruses by 99.94% to 99.97% efficiency.
In protecting people from COVID-19, the HEPA filter is partnered with UV light devices. The UV light devices kill any viruses and bacteria floating around by exposing them to UV light.
What to Look for in An Air Filter?
In buying air filer, it is essential to measure the size of the space to cover correctly. It is essential to identify the needs and purpose of the filters. Filters have different efficiency levels. The highest range HEPA filter category is most designed in hospitals and customized to the industry’s required efficiency level.
The HEPA filter must be replaced at a certain period. It is important to maintain the filter and be replaced regularly to ensure that it works thoroughly. Otherwise, the trapped viruses and bacteria will be recirculated into the indoor air. As a result, it could worsen the situation.
Air Filter Sensors for Mitigation of the Virus
In improving ventilation, it is essential to introduce fresh outdoor air. It helps in the reduction of the virus concentration in the air. This is by drawing out contaminated indoor air and replacing it with fresh outdoor air. Moreover, using a fan can increase the effectiveness of outdoor air.
In diluting the concentration level of viral particles, it is vital to rebalance or readjust the HVAC settings. HVAC systems must increase total airflow as much as possible. Improve the central air filtration by increasing the filtration efficiency. It should be in the proper size and within the recommended service life of the equipment. It is also essential to ensure that exhaust fans in the restroom, kitchens, and cooking areas are functional and operating at full capacity.
It is still essential to follow best hygiene practices, including social distancing and mask-wearing. It is important to avoid touching any surfaces and even body parts. The droplet transmission found on these surfaces can spread the Coronavirus.
AKCP Wireless Air Quality Sensor
AKCP Wireless Air Quality Sensor can detect 5 different sizes of particles. PM0.5, PM1.0, PM2.5, PM4 and PM10. These air sensors can measure the mass concentration of health hazard particles in the air, including COVID-19 virus particles about PM0.5 in size.
This air particle sensor could be utilized for indoor air quality (IAQ) assessments of hotels, shopping malls, hospitals, clean rooms, data centers, pharmaceutical storages, and warehouses, and other workplaces.
Wireless Air Pressure Differential
Wireless Air Pressure Differential Sensors are Air Filter Sensors. This type of sensor is installed on the Air Handling Unit Filter (AHU). This sensor will indicate if the filter needs cleaning or maintenance. The sensor will send a notification if it detected any drop in the pressure of the AHU. Using HEPA Filters requires a power to operate, since this type of filter fibers are so tight it would seem impossible for air to pass through without a high pressured machine. It will need a constant cleaning and maintenance since dirt will block the way of air and will make it difficult for the machine to suck adequate amount of air.
These sensors are compatible with Wireless Tunnel Gateway. Gateways collect data from Wireless Tunnel™ sensors within a 10km line of site radius. Data is stored on the gateway, graphed, and can be viewed on a web browser through ethernet, WiFi, or cellular data connections. For sites where more than one gateway is deployed AKCPro Server central monitoring software consolidates all sensor data in one user interface. It can collect data from up to 30 sensors scattered throughout the facility.
With over 30 years of experience in monitoring solutions, AKCP is the world’s leader in environmental monitoring solutions. Our Wireless Tunnel™ radio has excellent penetration within buildings and through obstructions. Our HVAC monitoring solution is suitable for all types of commercial air handlers and facilities.
These new requirements can do wonders in mitigating the risk of COVID-19 in hotel quarantine. Different people from different places occupy hotels with various whereabouts. If the authorities or hotel owners have not yet improved the ventilation system, it is important to arm yourself with a device that could ensure indoor air quality. If you expect to undergo a hotel quarantine, don’t be shy to inquire regarding the hotel’s usage of air filters and air filter sensors. Don’t hesitate to be wary and cautious for personal health concerns.
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