The Delhi High Court on Friday, April 24 issued a notice on a plea highlighting the possibility of central air-conditioning systems accelerating the spread of COVID-19. The notice has been issued to the Centre, the Delhi government and the Registrar of the High Court seeking their stand on the application.
The application was submitted by KC Mittal, the Chairman of the Bar Council of Delhi, wherein it was mentioned that centralized air conditioners can act as a catalyst in spreading of Coronavirus or other infections, especially those that are airborne. The case was being heard by a bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar.
Mittal, also the head of the Bar Council of Delhi, has contended in his plea that "the cough, sneeze or tear dispersal of an infected person would be in aerosol form" and the "same can be picked, ingested and circulated by the central air-conditioning units", like the ones installed in the high court.
He has further contended that while droplet infection can be dealt with by sterilization, once aerosol infection enters the air ducts of the central air-conditioning system, it could potentially infect dozens if not hundreds of persons present in a building.
Central government standing counsel Ajay Digpaul, who appeared for the Central Public Works Department, said it has issued guidelines on April 22 with regard to cleaning and maintenance of AC units and added that the same would be placed before the court. Delhi government additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghose and advocate Naman, appearing for the Public Works Department, said it would file a response before the next date of hearing.
The Registrar of the High Court has been asked to look into the guidelines issued by the CPWD and the Delhi HC has listed the case for hearing on May 1.
Earlier, the Maharashtra government asked all its offices to avoid the use of air conditioning (AC) system as a precaution against the spread of Coronavirus.
A Government Resolution (GR) signed by Principal Secretary (Health), Pradeep Vyas, on March 18, said that in centralised AC rooms, the virus stays for a longer period. The GR asked the offices to avoid using air conditioning system or to ensure that it is used only if necessary. "Instead there should be proper ventilation by keeping doors and windows open," it said.