Monday, July 20, 2020

ISHRAE COVID-19 Guidance Document for Air Conditioning and Ventilation

On 11th February 2020, the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses (ICTV) announced “severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARSCoV-2)” as the name of the virus that has caused the new disease COVID-19.

A month later, the World Health Organisation made an assessment and announced the disease to be a pandemic. COVID-19 has led to severe global socio-economic disruption impacting millions around the globe. 

India, with the rest of the world is facing the adverse effects of COVID-19. Concerns have been raised about the likelihood of the spread of the disease through operation of Air-conditioning and Ventilation Systems. Infectious diseases can spread by several different routes including transmission through air. The questions being asked are whether their spread can be accelerated or controlled by heating, ventilating, air-conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) systems, depending on how the system is designed and operated. 

To put a comprehensive guideline together, a COVID-19 Task Force was set up by ISHRAE's Technical Committee. This Guideline has been prepared after a detailed study and analysis of information and literature available till date. 

ISHRAE recommends that all facilities operated with air conditioning and ventilation, on the Indian Sub Continent, follow this guideline. 

In preparing this document , the COVID-19 Task Force has extracted, examined, analysed and compiled information pertaining to the Climatic regions of the Indian Sub Continent. The Team referred to publications in peer reviewed journals and reports from other relevant organizations around the world in arriving at this conclusive guideline. 

The COVID-19 Task Force comprises members from academia, designers, manufacturers , service providers and subject matter experts of related sciences such as Filtration, Healthcare Facility design, Indoor Air Quality, Safety, Thermal Comfort , System Design and Operation & Maintenance. 

I acknowledge the efforts of the Task Force members. This document is ISHRAE's contribution to generate awareness, keep building occupants and service providers safe and win over COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic, commonly known as CORONA has engulfed the world and India is no exception. The COVID-19 virus belongs to the CORONA family to which SARS and MERS also belong. As the COVID-19 virus is still not fully understood, the behavior of SARS and MERS is considered as a reference to the extent they do not contradict the present observations. The COVID-19 virus affects the respiratory track and starts with symptoms similar to the common flu. This virus is a mutated strain and as of today no vaccine is available.

The COVID-19 infection may result in deteriorating health or a patient's body immunity may resist the infection, but still remain a carrier. Close contact with those who are infected and coughing or sneezing without mask protection can spread the infection. The best prevention as of today is ensuring isolation and distancing from an infected person. The difficult part is the carrier is asymptomatic in the incubation period varying from 7 to 15 days. Most Governments have therefore adopted distancing and isolation to avoid contact by locking down cities and countries to different degrees.

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