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Report of the expert group on the ventilation and transmission of COVID-19 in schools and healthcare settings

The Quebec Ministry of Health and Social Services announces that the report of the expert group on the ventilation and transmission of COVID-19 in schools and in care settings has just been filed. Here is the official press release issued, which offers general recommendations.

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QUÉBEC, Jan. 8, 2021 / CNW Telbec / - The Minister of Health and Social Services announces that the report of the expert group concerning the ventilation and transmission of COVID-19 in schools and in health care settings has just come to be deposited. This report takes stock of the scientific knowledge surrounding the mode of transmission of COVID-19 in relation to ventilation. It aims to support the authorities' decision-making to prevent the spread of the virus, particularly with regard to establishments in the health and social services and education networks.

The work carried out by the expert group was based on scientific documentation provided by the National Institute of Public Health of Quebec (INSPQ). It is currently recognized that:

  • the virus is transmitted by aerosols, mainly near or within two meters of an infected person;
  • transmission a few meters further may also occur;
  • the risk of transmission is increased in confined spaces, inadequately ventilated, densely populated and with prolonged exposure.

The report also recalls the effectiveness of the preventive and protective measures implemented to contain the spread of the virus. It formulates several general recommendations for the establishments of the two networks:

  • compliance with the air renewal requirements per hour specified in the Act respecting occupational health and safety;
  • inspections of ventilation systems, as well as taking CO measurements2 and other settings in the premises on an annual basis;
  • quick fixes when ventilation is inadequate (eg: insufficient number of air changes) in certain rooms and systematic monitoring thereafter;
  • the creation of an accessible provincial register of equipment in place for research and evaluation purposes;
  • the information collected, updated and validated accessible to carry out assessments and inform the population.

Other recommendations apply more specifically to the school environment, in particular that of regularly ventilating occupied rooms by opening the windows twice a day, from 10 to 15 minutes, and opening the doors and windows 30 minutes before and after. after class. In schools, the installation of mobile air purifiers is not recommended in classrooms. As for the health network, we recommend, for places that do not meet ventilation requirements, a temporary mitigation plan implemented in the short and medium term. This may include, for example, the installation of a mobile air extraction device or an air exchanger.

Other recommendations apply more specifically to the school environment, in particular that of regularly ventilating occupied rooms by opening the windows twice a day, from 10 to 15 minutes, and opening the doors and windows 30 minutes before and after. after class. In schools, the installation of mobile air purifiers is not recommended in classrooms.

Some recommendations concern the coordination of actions to be implemented. We therefore propose, among other things, the creation of an interministerial committee bringing together the main partners and actors in the field in order to examine the issues and propose actions to be undertaken; improvement of the air quality component of the government health prevention policy; and the establishment of a research program.

It should be remembered that last November, teams were mobilized to check the frequency of air changes in various facilities of establishments in the health and social services network. Thus, between November 19 and 23, 2020, more than 70 measurements of the carbon dioxide level were carried out in several CHSLD-type facilities. The test results were considered satisfactory pending the recommendations contained in this report.

SOURCE Ministry of Health and Social Services

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