Adapt behaviour to the heat and the virus, crisis centre says

Adapt behaviour to the heat and the virus, crisis centre says
Credit: Belga

In the coming days, Belgians will have to adapt their behaviour not only to the second coronavirus (Covid-19) wave, but also to the heatwave, Crisis Centre spokesperson Yves Stevens says on Wednesday.

"With the coming of our next heat wave, we want to stress again how the virus spreads," said virologist Steven Van Gucht.

The virus is spread through close contact between people, through big droplets over a short distance, the crisis centre said, adding that the virus can also be transmitted through the hands when we touch an infected surface and rub our hands on our face.

"We cannot exclude a transmission via aerosol," they added, explaining that this is a case of very fine droplets that stay in the air for longer. The crisis centre thinks aerosol transmission could happen in poorly ventilated spaces. In light of the approaching heatwave, "it is therefore important to have sufficient and constant ventilation," Van Gucht said.

It is best that this be natural ventilation, according to the virologist. Non-natural ventilators, such as fans, can spread corona droplets further, so it is best to only use them in your own house or with people who you know don't have coronavirus, they said.

Ventilators should not blow in the direction of people, they added, as they can project coronavirus droplets further than one metre.

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An air conditioning system is not necessarily a source of infection - "on the contrary, it could diminish the risk of infections," said infectiologist Frédérique Jacobs -, but it's important that it's configured in such a way that there is always fresh air coming in from outside, rather than the same air constantly being recirculated. Air conditioning systems must be well kept and their filters changed frequently, they added.

It's also important to drink a lot of water, look for as much coolness as possible and avoid the most intensive of physical activities, said the crisis centre's Antoine Iseux.

"We can't ignore the virus, we'll have to adapt our behaviour to the heat and the virus," the crisis centre said. That means we have to keep wearing masks where it's mandatory, though it's obvious that it's not pleasant with the heat, they acknowledged.

"You will not be the only one wanting to cool down," they added, reminding people to always respect social distancing and other coronavirus rules. "If it's too busy, find an alternative or come back later," they said, adding that it's important to limit one's social contacts and stay within one's contact bubble, as well as to remember the golden rules.

Jason Spinks

The Brussels Times

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