Open windows for ‘short, sharp bursts’ to cut Covid transmission, Government to advise

Everyone should open their windows for "short sharp bursts" of 10 to 15 minutes several times a day to cut the risk of Covid transmission, the Government will say on Wednesday.

A new public information campaign has said regular fresh air can cut the risk of infection by over 70 per cent. 

People are being urged to either leave a window open a small amount continuously or to open it fully regularly throughout the day to give a blast of air.

The campaign said this was particularly important when permitted visitors such as tradespeople, care workers, or those in a support bubble are paying a visit.

Good ventilation should also be prioritised in households where anyone has the virus in order to cut the risk of transmission, scientists have said. 

Coronavirus is spread through the air by droplets and smaller particles known as aerosols when they are exhaled from the nose and mouth of an infected person as they breathe, speak or cough.

How Covid-19 travels in the air

The new public information campaign suggests the virus moves in a similar way to smoke, though invisibly, with the majority of transmissions happening inside.

Indoors, particles can be suspended in the air for hours and build up over time, and the longer people spend in the same room as these particles, the more likely they are to become infected.

With winter approaching and people spending more time at home, experts have recommended opening windows and using kitchen and bathroom extractor fans as another method to remove infected particles from the home.

Jo Churchill, the public health minister, said ventilation was "essential" over winter, adding: "As the weather gets colder and wetter, letting in fresh air in a short burst helps to reduce the risk of coronavirus in our homes. We should all remember – open your windows, and Hands. Face. Space."

Professor Catherine Noakes, an adviser for the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage), said ventilation was especially important in noisy settings. 

Prof Noakes, of Leeds University, said: "When a room does not have any fresh air, and where people are generating large amounts of aerosol through activities such as singing and loud speech, that is when transmission of coronavirus is most likely.

"Fresh air must come from outdoors – recirculating air just means the aerosols containing the virus move around the same room rather than being extracted outdoors."

The campaign film is part of the wider Hands. Face. Space guidance and was created with scientists and an engineer at Leeds University.

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