According to reports, some quarantine hotels that house people who have traveled to the UK from Covid-19 hotspots are using ventilation systems that are at risk of developing localized outbreaks.
A survey of ventilation experts seen by the Guardian found that several hotels near Heathrow Airport had systems that could provide improper airflow or spread the virus, urging the Labor and Unite unions to call for urgent government action.
According to a government tender document issued to a company that has bid for a contract to provide hotel space for traveler isolation, rooms must have individual ventilation systems or windows that open safely.
Reports show that few of the hotels near Heathrow, including some of the 16 home quarantine travelers, allow guests to open their windows for fresh air. This is common in airport accommodations due to noise and smoke.
At least one of the isolated hotels uses a heat exchange system that extracts air from the inside and uses its warmth to increase the temperature of the air drawn from the outside.
While this is energy efficient, the report says these systems increase the likelihood of spreading viruses in the air due to the mixing of air streams. This would be the most dangerous for Covid’s cross-contamination in the air, the report said.
The report was commissioned by a group of hotels that had a single room ventilation system but missed a government contract. The company and the engineer who conducted the survey declined the nomination. Guardian verified the engineer credentials, and experts supported the concerns raised in the report.
Ventilation systems have been mentioned as a possible cause for quarantine hotels in Australia. Alyson Prince, an infection control expert at London hospitals, said British hotels that use heat exchange systems without open windows could also face the same problem.
If you’re trying to isolate potentially Covid-infected people and use that kind of system, she said, there’s a problem. The air is slightly mixed, so there is a crossover.
She also pointed out a passage in the government tender document: Alternatively, the hotel will have a non-circulating ventilation system that can redirect airflow from corridors and staff areas to private rooms.
She said this was a mistake because it wouldn’t make sense to direct airflow from the hallways and staff areas to the room.
Dr. Trupti Patel, infectious disease and microbiology consultant at University College London Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said Covid-19 particles could spread across buildings without a single room air conditioning system.
To do this, hotels that house Covid or suspected Covid individuals should have either no central air conditioning or a heat recovery unit with windows that can be opened for natural ventilation, which is the best way to increase the rate of air exchange. said.
A government spokesman said: Air conditioning systems should not recirculate air, and should provide adequate natural ventilation in the absence of air conditioning.
Unite said it would address the issue immediately with the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) and that hotel staff could go on strike if it determines that working conditions are unsafe.
The union’s hospitality officer Dave Turnbull said the use of hotels without high-quality ventilation would be another major failure to the quarantine policies scattered with them.
Shadow household secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said ministers urgently need to reconsider safety measures. There is concern that there may be a niche in the hotel quarantine system that puts the staff and people staying in the hotel at risk. This is a complex issue, but pastors can plan it for a year and leverage best practices from around the world. To solve these problems, urgent action must be taken.
Those arriving from red-listed countries are required to undergo a 10-day hotel quarantine at a cost of 1,750 borne by the passenger. Ten thousand fines were imposed on Tuesday for four people who did not inform themselves when they arrived at Birmingham Airport.
Travelers staying at quarantine hotels in the UK will receive an additional bill of up to 1,200 if they test positive for coronavirus during their stay.
Guardian forwarded concerns to all relevant hotel groups. Accor, owner of Novotel, a home quarantine traveler, said it did not use the kind of system that experts are concerned about. It is understood that Holiday Inns owners IHG have ventilation systems that comply with government standards.
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