Redesign buildings’ ventilation to reduce Covid-19 transmission

Not only does having good ventilation prevent the spread of Covid-19, but it is also good for ESG as it reduces energy footprint 

by AZALEA AZUAR / Pic by BLOOMBERG

CORPORATIONS and organisations should emphasise on ventilation and airflow in the workplaces to minimise the potential spread of the Covid-19 virus. 

According to TMC Life Sciences Bhd group CEO and Thomson Hospital Kota Damansara CEO Nadiah Wan, commercial buildings should redesign their airflow system since the virus is airborne, although wearing face masks is compulsory. 

“We do not talk enough about the corporate responsibility of ensuring a safe workplace and ensuring that places where people gather are safe,” she explained at yesterday’s MIDF Conversations. 

Nadiah has observed that some places use Plexiglas barriers to prevent the spread of Covid-19 when in truth, they actually inhibit airflow. 

“Studies have shown that it is actually not effective in preventing airborne diseases and corporates need to step up and do their part to make sure that people are safe within their premises. 

“Architects should change the way they design buildings to incorporate more natural ventilation,” she said. 

Not only does having good ventilation prevent the spread of Covid-19, but it is also good for environmental, social and governance (ESG) as it reduces energy footprint. 

Nadiah added that the Health Ministry and Universiti Malaya have also come up with guidelines on how to improve airflow for buildings with air-conditioning systems. 

These include having standalone purifiers, installing high-efficiency particulate absorbing filters in the air handler unit, or even reversing airflow. 

While there are many existing guidelines on airflow and ventilation, Nadiah said there should be more discussions about them and hoped that a serious conversation can be done between those in the board and management level to protect the people in their buildings. 

Meanwhile, she expressed concern about the many people around the world who are still unvaccinated, especially with the emergence of new variants. 

“We cannot say that we are in an endemic phase because with the Omicron variant, we have a very acute spike in the number of Covid19 cases,” she said. 

Nadiah hoped the issue of vaccine equity can be addressed soon, as it is the key to bringing infections to a steady state that the healthcare system can manage. 

“I hope that in the next year or two, the world collectively figures out how we can provide vaccines to a large proportion of the world, particularly in Africa and a lot of underdeveloped countries,” she said, adding that countries should donate their extra vaccine supplies to other countries rather than keeping it for themselves. 

With the Omicron variant still being studied while it is spreading fast, Nadiah urged the public to get their Covid-19 booster vaccines which are administered for free in Malaysia.