OCCUPATIONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL MEDICINE
Some Updates and Thoughts on the COVID-19 Pandemic
The COVID-19 Pandemic has been an amazing instructor. It has informed humanity on the many variables which may be perceived and variably interpreted which result to modify human behaviour.
I look around the urban community and I see that most people have adjusted to a new normal:
- They cross the street (instead of passing you on the sidewalk)
- They wear masks if entering a building crammed together in other settings [eg waiting in hallways etc and public transport].
- They avoid close proximity to others if possible and will "take the next elevator" in the majority of cases.
So, we should be proud of our public health service in its success in persistent and consistent communications.
We now know more about Covid than we did in March, one small problem is slowly becoming apparent in how Covid-19 may be spread:
- The initial message was to avoid potentially infective droplets as spread from among individuals when cough or even speak or sing.
- Thus use of masks and their effectiveness when carefully used has pleasantly allowed more freedoms as our community adjusts to using such tools.
- We have come to understand that droplets are small collections of liquid which can fall to the ground and land on surfaces.
- We have developed extensive measures to ensure that we can clean surfaces on a regular basis to remove virus containing droplets.
- This is now well known behavior in 2020 which we accept and embrace
More recently our understanding has become a bit more refined extending the concept of additional ways which the Covid-19 virus can be spread. The words aerosol transmission is starting to appear in the conversations about virus spread, in addition to droplets.
Inside vs Outside - What's the difference?
Outside is the new Buzz Word
But....we spend a lot of time inside buildings
Besides dilution [ie ventilation],how else can we reduce the number of virus particle which may be present?
In the operating room special ventilation piping creates laminar flow so the air uniformly moves where the surgeons wish it to. The air falls down on the center of the operating table and then flows off the operating table rolling down the floor where it is captured and flushed out of the room. This prevents any airborne particles which might be in the air from getting near the surgical site which must remain absolutely clean.
Many years ago we discovered how to manage contaminated air to reduce the concentration of chemicals and infective agents and render it harmless. This was determined in detail by mechanical engineers to create containment laboratories so that scientists could examine and learn about very ineffective and dangerous bacteria and viruses.
Containment laboratories and laminar flow operating rooms however cost millions and are gross overkill for general use. It could however be possible to look at these engineering marvels and learn how we may be able to improve the health of our population.
CONCLUSION Hopefully this explanation helps you understand: Covid has caught us unprepared to manage and thus we have all adjusted to using PPE. PPE is not the solution! It is the last resort! We can do better!Supporting changes to make buildings safer is an urgent need. Why are we not seeing government sponsored programs to support retrofitting to achieve better ventilation and air filtration!
Call your MPP / MP and ask why they are not on this bandwagon to make schools safer!