EDITORIAL - Winning the air war

The Philippine Star
EDITORIAL - Winning the air war

Since the first year of the COVID pandemic, health experts have stressed the importance of providing proper indoor ventilation to prevent infection. Physical distancing of at least two meters was enforced because experts said the coronavirus spreads through both large droplets and fine aerosols when an infected person opens his mouth to cough, talk or even breathe.

Proper ventilation, the experts point out, helps keep out not only the COVID virus but also many other airborne pathogens – apart from promoting healthy lungs and preventing allergies. When the call for good ventilation was made, many people understood its necessity and building owners committed to improve ventilation systems.

The commitment appears to be flagging, however, as the COVID threat dissipates. Worried health experts have stressed that vaccination is not enough to stem the pandemic tide, and improving indoor air quality must be the new phase in the battle against COVID-19.

While health experts point to proper indoor ventilation as one of the most potent weapons against the coronavirus, building owners have cited the cost of installing better ventilation systems. With the global economy just starting to recover from the tsunami unleashed by COVID, many are delaying or setting aside initial plans to invest in efficient indoor ventilation systems.

Governments can encourage the investment by providing incentives to owners of buildings, schools and other public spaces that comply with standards set for efficient ventilation. Seals of good ventilation can be awarded to guide the public on the places where breathing is safer.

The pandemic is not over, as the World Health Organization keeps saying. The director of the Institute of Global Health in the University of Geneva describes the global situatuon as a “fragile, armed peace” with COVID-19. That peace can be broken any time. Before this happens, all available weapons must be in place to fight the virus. One of those weapons is proper ventilation. The world cannot afford to lose the air war.


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