Bord Fáilte has recently issued their guidelines for the scheduled reopening of the hospitality sector.
The ‘Overview Guidelines to Re-opening’, issued on the 26th May 2021 now acknowledges what we at EAM Group have been saying since June 2020.
“ The risk of getting COVID-19 is higher in crowded and poorly ventilated spaces where infected people spend long periods of time together in close proximity.
It is important to maximise ventilation in areas where people are in close contact. Smaller particles containing the virus can stay suspended for longer periods of time. “
The risk of indoor cross-contamination via aerosols is very high when rooms are not ventilated properly and especially if you have a high occupancy or a high number of transient occupants.
If we are seriously considering ‘Staying Safe & Staying Open’, we need to do more.
The REHVA (Federation of European Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Associations) have produced a control hierarchy to reduce the environmental risks of airborne transmission. The hierarchy clearly shows that Engineering Controls are at a higher level than the application of Administrative Controls and Personal Protective Equipment including masks.
It is extremely important to consider ventilation and other building services to protect against airborne transmission. These may be applied in existing buildings, at a relatively low cost, to reduce indoor infection risk.
Engineering Controls can reduce both symptomatic and asymptomatic transmission for both vaccinated and unvaccinated people.
Remember the role of vaccines is to reduce the rate of hospitalisation, Intensive Care admissions and deaths. They do not prevent you from getting COVID-19, their efficacy depends upon the population take-up rate, the vaccine roll-out programme and the ever-increasing number of mutations. Furthermore, the length of vaccine protection is unknown.
As an example, if 80% of the population was vaccinated with a vaccine that is 80% effective, it means that only 64% of the population is protected.
A reliance on vaccines, hand hygiene and social distancing is inadequate in limiting the spread of the virus. Increasing air filtration, sterilisation, ventilation, air quality and flow is paramount for SARS-CoV-2 infection control. Bord Fáilte and Health Protection Surveillance Control (HPSC) ‘Guidance on Non-Healthcare Building Ventilation during COVID-19’(Version 2.0) place a heavy emphasis on the role of Heating, Ventilation and Air Condition systems (HVAC) as a key mitigation measure for reducing aerosol transmission of COVID-19.
However, they fail to acknowledge the poor standard of ventilation system design in buildings and the important role of localised mobile sterilisers in occupied spaces.
These sterilisers must only use safe technology and should be ozone, ionisation, plasma and chemical free and must not use exposed UV-C light. They must remove air from the breathing zone and they must be sized to space where the units are being used.
Following the success of our SARS-CoV-2 Ventilation Strategy Assessment Service for the management and prevention of the spread of COVID-19 and other common pathogens in schools, gyms, and commercial premises, we carried out an assessment of available solutions to help continuously sanitise the air in indoor occupied spaces. Because we could not find a safe system that did not use potentially harmful technologies such as ionisation, plasma, ozone or the use chemicals, we decided to develop a safe Irish Mass Air Sterilisation product.
We will shortly be announcing AerNua and what we believe to be the ‘The Future of Clean Air’.