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How to Stay COVID Safe at Home This Christmas

20 Dec 2021
A guide to the importance of ventilation in the home this Christmas.

Researchers at UCC have produced a guide to help stay safe in the home this Christmas. The guide illustrates common Christmas settings in the home to provide useful advice, particularly in relation to the importance of ventilation.

Fresh air is safer air and you don't need to freeze

"Research clearly shows that ventilation plays a very important role in preventing the spread of COVID-19" commented Professor John Wenger, Director of the Centre for Research into Atmospheric Chemistry (CRAC) at University College Cork. 

"Fresh air is safer air and you don't need to freeze! It is important we follow all public health advice and our guide is designed to help us have a safe Christmas in the home" commented Professor Wenger.

Key tips in the guide are 

  • Use a CO2 sensor to monitor the ventilation in a room.
  • Opening windows just a small bit can still make a difference.
  • At the Christmas dinner table sit as far away as possible from people outside your household or support bubble.
  • Keep bathroom window open all of the time or the extraction fan on.
  • Close the toilet lid before you flush as it will help to prevent the virus from getting into the air.
  • Use a portable air purifier to remove the virus from the air.
  • No Christmas carols as singing is known to release a lot more virus particles than talking. 
  • In the kitchen keeping the extractor fan on can ensure additional ventilation.

The science of airborne transmission 

"Coronavirus is present in tiny particles emitted from the mouth when an infected person is talking, singing or coughing. These tiny particles do not fall to the ground, but remain suspended in the air as aerosols for up to several hours. Airborne transmission occurs when these virus-containing aerosols are inhaled by another person" highlighted Professor Wenger. 

"Airborne transmission is very important indoors, particularly in poorly ventilated spaces where levels of the virus can spread throughout the room and build up over time. Under these conditions, there is no safe distance from an infected person and all those present are at increased risk of infection. In fact, airborne transmission is by far the most plausible way in which the virus is transmitted during "superspreading events", where one infected person (frequently asymptomatic) spreads the virus to many others. Some highly publicised examples of superspreading events include a choir practice in Washington State, a meat processing plant in Germany a call centre in Korea and a school in Israel" stated Professor Wenger. 

"We will be spending more time indoors this winter and the risk of the virus spreading is even higher. Accepting the reality of airborne transmission is now more important than ever as it will empower us to fight back stronger against Covid-19."

Centre for Research into Atmospheric Chemistry

Ionad Taighde Um Ceimice Atmaisféarach

Lab B1, Kane Building, University College Cork, T12 YN60.