Open Windows To Curb Airborne Covid-19 Spread: HR Ministry

Office buildings and public facilities with air-conditioning mechanical ventilation systems should have better air ventilation by opening windows and doors as often as possible.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 13 — The government has finally released ventilation guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19 indoors, acknowledging that the virus is airborne.

Building owners and facility managers should regularly open their windows and doors to remove air that contains virus particles, according to a government guideline on improving building ventilation.

The new directive, issued by the Ministry of Human Resources today, noted that Covid-19 can spread through aerosol transmission, especially in enclosed environments.

The guidelines set out four measures that should be carried out in premises with mechanical ventilation and air conditioning (MVAC), air conditioners without fresh air supply, and naturally vented spaces.

“These are measures that need to be implemented to reduce the transmission of the Covid-19 virus through the air,” the ministry stated.

The general guidelines for spaces where air-conditioning is used intermittently or continuously — such as office blocks, shopping malls, health facilities and residential premises — are:

  • increase air ventilation and enhance air exchange
  • open operable doors and windows as frequently as possible
  • minimise the number of occupants in enclosed spaces
  • using portable air purifiers to increase intake of outdoor air

Specific recommendations include using an air filter with a Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value (MERV) of 13 or 14 or a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter to increase air exchange and the use of exhaust fans to expel air from indoor spaces.

Additionally, physical parameters specified in the Industry Code of Practice on Indoor Air Quality 2010 (ICOP IAQ 2010) must be in the acceptable range: temperature between 23-26 degrees Celsius and relative humidity between 40 to 70 per cent.

The directive was developed based on the ICOP IAQ 2010 issued by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health Malaysia (DOSH) and is equivalent to standards set by other national authorities and organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO).

Representatives from the Ministry of Health (MOH), Institute of Medical Research (IMR), Public Works Department (JKR), Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) and Member of the American Society of Heating Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (MASHRAE) were also engaged in the development of the ventilation guidelines.

The guideline was approved by a technical committee chaired by the Defence Minister on July 7 and was endorsed by the National Security Council on July 8.

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