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WHO Finally Confirms COVID-19 Is Airborne; DOH Recommends Open Ventilation, HEPA FiltersMore than a year into the global pandemic.by Johnna V. Giolagon .
Open windows or a ventilation system that traps airborne contaminants is the recommended standard that the country’s health experts want businesses to comply with.
This was even before the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO), following much discussion in global health circles, finally confirmed that COVID-19 is indeed airborne.
“Ito pong ventilation standards na ito specifically inaddress po natin yang sinasabi ng CDC,” said Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire.
“In enclosed spaces, if you do not have windows na mabubuksan ninyo… kailangan meron tayong filtration system na nilalagay, like HEPA filters,” Vergeire said.
HEPA filters are High Efficiency Particulate Air Filters that can capture up to 99 percent of all contaminants. HEPA filters are common in hospital settings — where viruses and other contaminants shouldn’t be freely circulating in the air — but not so in business or in homes.
Vergeire said that government is issuing a safety seal certification for establishments that comply with ventilation standards on top of safety protocols. This safety seal is not mandatory for establishments, although government and the private sector are planning to give incentives in order to encourage wider compliance.
Enclosed spaces present a heightened risk for people to contract not just COVID-19 but other pathogens too. “Mas probabilidad po na yung ating pagkalat ng sakit ay mas mabilis kahit po tayo naka mask at naka face shield because the virus lingers more or longer in the air kapag po sa (enclosed space),” she explained.ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW
She further encouraged the public to avoid enclosed spaces or at least “minimize the time that you are in an enclosed space.”
Compliance to these protocols is necessary to cut the chain of transmission, she said.
The Philippines has recorded close to 1.5 million cases of COVID-19 as of May 17. About 55,000 cases remain active; 19,262 people have died from the virus since it was first detected in the country last year. The so-called NCR Plus bubble remains to be the epicenter of infection in the country even though the daily rate has begun to decline.
The capital is now under General Community Quarantine with heightened restrictions, meaning certain establishments are allowed to operate at a limited capacity.
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