"Over the winter, when the weather is colder, understandably it is likely that fewer people will want to open windows in their home. Opening windows for short periods of time (10 minutes every hour or two hour) may be effective at reducing risks without significantly compromising temperature."Dr Louise Smith, King's IoPPN
26 May 2021
Opening windows for short periods of time could help prevent COVID-19 transmission
As the public begin to meet inside again, research shows that a quarter don’t open their windows despite knowing it can help reduce transmission.
As the public meet inside again, research shows that a quarter don’t open their windows despite knowing it can help reduce transmission.
A new study by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response at King’s College London’s Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN), University College London and Public Health England, shows that despite growing evidence that it would reduce transmission, only one-in-six people reported rarely, if ever, opening windows in their home in last week.
COVID-19 has been shown to spread through both droplet and airborne transmission. Droplet transmission occurs when an infected individual coughs, sneezes or speaks, releasing large droplets into the air which deposit quickly, typically within two metres. Airborne transmission occurs when smaller aerosols carrying a virus evaporate to form droplets which remain suspended in the air for long periods of time. Ventilation helps prevent the spread of infection by diluting droplets hanging in the air and extracting them outdoors where they disperse.
Published in Environmental Health Insights, the study included responses from over 10,000 UK adults and took place between 26 October and 2 December 2020. Three-quarters of people agreed that improving ventilation was an effective way of preventing the spread of COVID-19, and five-in-six were confident that they could open windows to improve ventilation. However, only one-in-six reported that they rarely, if ever, opened windows in their home in the last week.
The survey ran at the same time as the Department of Health and Social Care launched a marketing campaign. Despite the launch of the marketing campaign in England on 18 November 2020, there was no difference in perceived effectiveness, or self-reported behaviour over time.
Dr Louise Smith from the King’s IoPPN and the NIHR HPRU in Emergency Preparedness and Response, said "This study shows that while most people think opening windows to improve ventilation could prevent the spread of COVID-19, only very few people actually did so. Simple actions such as opening doors or windows could increase ventilation in indoor settings and reduce COVID-19 transmission.
"Now that we are able to meet indoors, opening windows and doors to improve ventilation and prevent the spread of COVID-19 becomes even more important."
Study authors were supported by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Emergency Preparedness and Response, a partnership between Public Health England, King’s College London and the University of East Anglia. Authors also receive funding from Public Health England, NHS England, and the Ministry of Defence. Data collection was funded by the Department of Health and Social Care, England.
COVID-19 and Ventilation in the Home; Investigating Peoples’ Perceptions and Self-Reported Behaviour (the COVID-19 Rapid Survey of Adherence to Interventions and Responses [CORSAIR] Study) (doi.org/10.1177/11786302211015588) (Louise E Smith, Henry WW Potts, Richard Amlȏt, Nicola T Fear, Susan Michie, G James Rubin) was published in Environmental Health Insights
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