A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Cambridge in the UK found that air filters can significantly reduce the presence of airborne SARS-CoV-2 in COVID-19 in hospital wards. The team of experts arrived at this conclusion after discovering that almost all traces of the traces of airborne SARS-CoV-2 were removed after placing an air filtration machine in the hospital wards. This comes after researchers noted a steady rise in evidence of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus through the air in small droplets called aerosols.
Published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, the study aimed at examining whether the air filters and ultraviolet (UV) sterilisation devices are capable to curb the spread of the virus in general wards that have been transformed into COVID wards or Intensive Care Units (ICU). According to a report by PTI, lead author Vilas Navapurkar, from Cambridge University Hospitals (CUH) said-
Reducing airborne transmission of the coronavirus is extremely important for the safety of both patients and staff. Effective PPE has made a huge difference, but anything we can do to reduce the risk further is important.
To test the devices, the team of experts reportedly conducted their research in two repurposed COVID-19 units. Among the two, one ward managed patients who required simple oxygen treatment or no respiratory support, whereas the other was an ICU ward treating serious patients. Both the wards were fitted with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) air filter/UV steriliser and were allowed to filter the air five to ten times per hour for a total of seven days. The filter is made up of thousands of fibres knitted together which kicks out particles bigger than a certain threshold.
When the machines were switched off, the wards were almost free from bacterial, fungal and other viral bioaerosols on both the surge ward and the ICU. Andrew Conway Morris, from the University of Cambridge and another author were quoted saying by PTI, "We were really surprised by quite how effective air filters were at removing airborne SARS-CoV-2 on the wards". He went on to add, "Although it was only a small study, it highlights their potential to improve the safety of wards, particularly in areas not designed for managing highly infectious diseases such as COVID-19".