According to Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton, ventilation and airflow are “key” to fighting COVID-19

Ceiling or pedestal fans can help draw fresh air in from outside, air conditioning settings can be changed to bring in outside air, and in some places it may be possible to make building changes, e.g. B. opening windows that have been previously sealed.


Portable HEPA air filters were widely installed in Victorian schools, and Sutton revealed they were also used in aged care facilities where the state has jurisdiction during outbreaks.

But he says more could be done in the aged care sector, which has accounted for 30 percent of the country’s COVID-19 deaths, and says many facilities were built when insulating from heat and cold was the primary concern, meaning that there was bad nature ventilation.

“We have clearly raised this with the aged care sector to do what they can but it will be a long term project to tackle [the] Incidentally, the same applies to the disabled sector.”

Robyn Schofield, associate professor of atmospheric chemistry at the University of Melbourne, said COVID-19 can remain airborne for three hours indoors, but there are other reasons for ventilation, including ensuring carbon dioxide doesn’t accumulate and reducing the concentration of the people affected.

She said poor indoor ventilation costs Australia about $9 billion in lost productivity every year.

“Ventilation was an issue before the pandemic, the pandemic has actually shown how bad it is.”

The Victorian Government have produced guidance to improve ventilation in cafes and restaurants, pubs and clubs, function rooms, shopping centres, kitchen and food preparation areas, foyers, canteens, boardrooms and a range of other work areas.

Grants are also available for small businesses who are dealing with the public to improve their building ventilation and may help with an expert assessment, but Sutton said after reviewing one of the self-assessment guides, people might realize they’re doing enough to have.

He said people should consider how much natural ventilation was already in place, how many people are gathering in the space, and how long and what activities were taking place there.


“Is it silent, which is the least risk, or talking, which is a step up, or screaming, screaming? [or] Singing, which is a next level up, and effort, which is up there as well,” he said. “That’s why gyms and coffee shops and hospo and pubs and clubs tend to fall into the highest risk category because they have more people, tend to be closed… and have activities that generate a lot more aerosols.”

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Joel McCord

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