Engineering Solutions for Preventing Airborne Transmission in Hospitals with Resource Limitation and Demand Surge
Hina Zia, Ritu Singh, Manu Seth, Armin Ahmed, Afzal Azim
Airborne transmission, Air cleaning technologies, Hybrid ventilation, Natural ventilation, Temporary negative-pressure rooms, Ventilation systems
Citation Information :
Zia H, Singh R, Seth M, Ahmed A, Azim A. Engineering Solutions for Preventing Airborne Transmission in Hospitals with Resource Limitation and Demand Surge. Indian J Crit Care Med 2021; 25 (4):453-460.
Among the various strategies for the prevention of airborne transmission, engineering measures are placed high in the hierarchy of control. Modern hospitals in high-income countries have mechanical systems of building ventilation also called HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) but installation and maintenance of such systems is a challenging and resource-intensive task. Even when the state-of-the-art technology was used to build airborne infection isolation rooms (AIIRs), recommended standards were often not met in field studies. The current coronavirus disease-2019 pandemic has highlighted the need to find cost-effective and less resource-intensive engineering solutions. Moreover, there is a need for the involvement of interdisciplinary teams to find innovative infection control solutions and doctors are frequently lacking in their understanding of building ventilation-related problems as well as their possible solutions. The current article describes building ventilation strategies (natural ventilation and hybrid ventilation) for hospitals where HVAC systems are either lacking or do not meet the recommended standards. Other measures like the use of portable air cleaning technologies and temporary negative-pressure rooms can be used as supplementary strategies in situations of demand surge. It can be easily understood that thermal comfort is compromised in buildings that are not mechanically fitted with HVAC systems, therefore the given building ventilation strategies are more helpful when climatic conditions are moderate or other measures are combined to maintain thermal comfort.
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