Corona Virus hit the world when no one saw it coming. The world is almost 4 months down while dealing with the pandemic, and therefore there is much more information available about the sources and transmission of the virus in open and closed spaces. With self-quarantine and people not being out and about, it is important to understand the ways in which transmission of COVID-19 happens indoors to have maximum protection against the transmission of the virus.
An indoor environment is high at the risk of being infected because the main cause of transmission of the virus is from one person to another; everyone being indoors right now makes the inside spaces more susceptible for the growth and transmission of COVID-19. The buildings and infrastructure created are done in a way where the ventilation is such that the place is safe, clean and productive. However, transmission of COVID-19 is found out to be quite rapid indoors, despite the well-ventilated infrastructures. Being a new disease, there is still less information available on the issue, but the main ways in which the disease is transmitted is found out to be through direct and indirect contact with each other, spraying of droplets and airborne transmission.
Since the virus is spread through air, ventilation and centrally air-conditioned systems indoors are a huge source of the spread. It was found that passengers in ships got infected by the virus even after staying in their cabins, through the virus reaching to them via the ventilation systems. Therefore, being indoors with an infected patient, can be a high risk situation for all the other inhabitants of the indoor space, be it a residential place, an office, mode of transportations like ships, airplanes and trains. Therefore, quarantine needs to be done in a way where social distancing can be maintained in an indoor environment as well as outdoors.
Governments all across the globe are of the view that closing down parks, beaches, malls and other such open spaces, can greatly reduce the risk of the spread of the virus completely, however the point being raised in this article regarding the rapid spread of the virus indoors negates this stance of the Governments, and equal importance needs to be given to measures conducted for indoor environments. In most regions across the globe, even during a seeming lockdown outside, people are continually mingling with each other behind closed doors, which is an alarming situation to occur during a global pandemic.
The transmission and spread of airborne viruses indoors can have severe future consequences. As indoor environments can become breeding grounds for viruses creating large clusters of infection over a period of time. Mainly because of fumigation and sanitization of indoor environments being challenging because of structural complexities and closed spaces. Thereby, making indoor environments secure and safe should be a priority, by taking preventative measures beforehand rather than waiting for a virus to be contracted and then going for sanitizing measures. Prevention is definitely better and easier than the cure in this case.
Amongst all other safety and hygiene protocols to be followed by the people, one aspect that helps in reducing the chances of virus spread indoors is having a properly ventilated system inside. Making sure the area is airy enough for the air to pass and sunlight to reach inside, to have a cleaner space. Making use of natural ventilation is important by making windows and installing exhaust fans in the right places. There is also a need for avoiding the recirculation of air inside the same indoor environment; the air needs to be ventilated outside rather than making it recirculate inside causing the bacteria and viruses, if any, to stay inside as well.
Moreover, the act of social distancing is the most important; being too close and in direct contact with another person is the main way of getting infected by COVID-19, therefore staying away from a person’s direct contact is important to be practiced indoors. One way that can be done effectively is by reducing the number of people sharing the same space. Limited number of people in an indoor environment can provide better ways of practicing social distancing to avoid direct contacts. Increasing humidification is another important aspect of prevention; extreme dryness can cause mucus membranes to dry making particles reach the respiratory tract quicker. Particle disposition is also reduced when the air is dry, leaving the air filled with stationary bacterial components making inhabitants more susceptible to getting affected.
With most of the human population confined indoors, it is high time to realize the importance of having clean and secure environments inside and using proper ventilation to air out bacteria and viruses. Places like hospitals, grocery stores, pharmacies, nursing homes and other facilities that are still up and running, need to be given the most attention and importance.