28.05.2022

Open your windows, Britons told this winter, to stop virus spreading

Covid-19 spreads through droplets and smaller particles known as aerosols in the air when they are exhaled from the nose and mouth of an infected person as they breathe, speak or cough.

Reduce the spread of coronavirus this winter by opening windows to improve ventilation in homes, says a new public health campaign by the government.

A campaign video released by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) stresses the importance of letting fresh air into indoor spaces to dilute or get rid of infected coronavirus particles in the air.

These particles can be suspended in the air for hours, and build up over time indoors. As people spend more time in the same room as these particles, their risk of becoming infected with coronavirus increases.

Experts have recommended that opening windows for “short, sharp bursts” of around 15 minutes every few hours, or leaving them open a small amount throughout the day could help reduce the chance of infection.

Dr Amir Khan, who presented the video, said: “Letting fresh air into enclosed spaces regularly, throughout the day, will also reduce the spread of the virus — particularly important in the winter when we spend more time indoors.”

The campaign video is part of the government’s ‘Hands. Face. Space’ guidance, and was created with scientists and an engineer at Leeds University.

According to DHSC, letting fresh air into indoor spaces reduces the risk of infection from coronavirus by over 70 per cent.

People are also advised to use kitchen or bathroom fan extractors more often as an additional method of removing the infected particles from the air.

Public Health Minister Jo Churchill said in a statement: “We all spend more time inside over the winter, so ventilation is essential.

“As the weather gets colder and wetter, letting in fresh air in short bursts helps to reduce the risk of coronavirus in our homes. We should all remember: open your windows, and Hands. Face. Space.”

Professor Catherine Noakes of Leeds University, who advised on the video, said: “When a room does not have any fresh air, and where people are generating large amounts of aerosol such as singing and loud speech, that is when transmission of coronavirus is most likely.

“Fresh air must come from outdoors — recirculating air just means the aerosols containing the virus move around the same room rather than being extracted outdoors.

“Ventillation units or any household systems that use outdoor air can be just as effective as opening windows or doors as long as they are limiting the recirculation of the same air.”

Making sure indoor spaces are well-ventilated is particularly crucial if people have visitors, when permitted, or tradespeople carrying out work in their home.

People should also open their windows after someone from a support bubble meets with another household indoors, or a care worker attends to a patient indoors. If someone in the household has Covid-19, ventilation can also help prevent transmission to other members of the household, said DHSC.

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