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Refcom steps in to combat coronavirus misinformation

UK: The F-gas certification body Refcom has stepped in to “allay fears” and “put the record straight” on “misinformation” regarding the coronavirus and air conditioning.

The notice is said to be in response to its members having received calls from concerned clients asking if their air conditioning systems are safe to use with the current coronavirus COVID-19 alert in the UK.

Refcom advises caution over recent newspaper stories that have suggested the coronavirus could be spread by air conditioning systems. In particular, Refcom says recent reports from Singapore suggest “traces of the virus” found in “an air duct connected to the room of a patient” who had tested positive for the virus, speculated that the natural conclusion was that the virus was being transferred via the air flowing through the duct. 

“Not only is this unscientific because it does not consider the distinct probability that someone has touched the outlet grille and left the trace amount there, but the scaremongering this creates is unhelpful to those trying to get to grips with the reality of the situation,” Refcom says.

However, Refcom insists that any airborne contaminants can be minimised, if not eliminated, by proper and effective filtration and regular cleaning and maintenance of ventilation systems. 

“A clean ventilation system is an essential part of a healthy building and it is essential that any ventilation system serving a building where confirmed cases have been diagnosed are sanitised in accordance with best practice, and that any buildings where no cases have been confirmed have their ventilation system cleaned to industry best practice as a preventative measure during this time and on-going.”

Refcom says its statement is based on the best advice currently available, but admits that the situation is rapidly changing. It advises that government and NHS websites should be consulted for any rapidly developing changes to the situation.

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