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Winter is coming: tips on staying Covid-free indoors

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With the days growing shorter and the temperatures going into free-fall, most of us will spend more time over the next few months indoors, even by lockdown standards.

That presents a new problem: how to remain protected as far as possible from exposure to the coronavirus? The construction industry website Livios has some tips.

For the singletons among us, winter just means fewer social contacts, and for those who work from home, none at all.

But for people with a normal family life, winter presents additional risks. The virologists tell us the home is a hotbed of infection, where most cases spread. So it’s worth taking some time to corona-proof the house.

Ventilation is of prime importance. The virus is not blowing in the wind, so there’s no reason not to give the home a thorough airing. New builds and energy conscious houses may have a ventilation system already installed, but for the rest, we have good old-fashioned windows, which provide a source of fresh air rather than air that’s been recycled rather than replaced.

Open doors and windows for as long as possible, Livios recommends, changing those that are open for those that are closed so that the air gets a chance to circulate.

Make sure that you don’t just open one window or door: this will allow fresh air to enter, but it is more difficult to get it back out and the same air continues to circulate, Livios says. “It is best to open another door or window on the top floor or on the other side of your house.”

Temperature in itself is not a weapon against the virus, so never mind turning up the thermostat any higher than you would normally. According to science, the virus only starts to feel the effects of indoor climate conditions when the temperature gets above 30 degrees and humidity over 80%. Even at that level, the virus won’t suffer much, while your bank balance will.

The ideal indoor temperature is between 19 and 22 degrees – somewhat warmer in the bathroom, and somewhat cooler in the bedroom. Carbon dioxide levels should be below 1,200 parts per million, which you can check with a CO2 meter available from DIY stores.

Humidity is the friend of microbes, and levels of between 40% and 70% is ideal. If you notice the windows steaming up after a shower or boiling a kettle, the humidity is too high. Open a window.
And while in the kitchen, use the extractor fan when cooking on a grill or using a toaster, which can release unhealthy particles into the air. The same goes for incense, scented candles and, of course, tobacco.

Alan Hope
The Brussels Times